Lessons from a Transplantation of Zebra Mussels into a Small Urban River: An Integrated Ecotoxicological Assessment

TitleLessons from a Transplantation of Zebra Mussels into a Small Urban River: An Integrated Ecotoxicological Assessment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsBourgeault A, Gourlay-Francé C, Vincent-Hubert F, Palais F, Geffard A, Biagianti-Risbourg S, Pain-Devin S, Tusseau-Vuillemin M-H
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology
Date Published05/2010
Keywordsactive biomonitoring, biomarker, multidisciplinary study, Zebra mussel
It is often difficult to evaluate the level of contamination in small urban rivers because pollution is mainly diffuse, with low levels of numerous substances. The use of a coupled approach using both chemical and biological measurements may provide an integrated evaluation of the impact of micro-pollution on the river. Zebra mussels were transplanted along a metal and organic pollution gradient in spring 2008. For two months, mussels and water samples were collected from two sites every two weeks and analyzed for metal and PAH content as well as water physicochemical parameters. Diffusive gradients in thin film (DGT) were also used to assess levels of labile metals. Exposure of mussels to contaminants and potential impact were evaluated using physiological indices and various biomarkers including condition index (CI), defense mechanisms (glutathione-S-transferase: GST), digestive enzymes (amylase and cellulase) and genotoxicity (micronucleus test: MN and comet assay: CA). For most contaminants, the water contamination was significantly higher downstream. Bioaccumulation in zebra mussels was related to water contamination in the framework of the biodynamic model, which allowed us to take into account the biological dilution that was caused by the growth of soft tissue downstream. Thus, metal influxes were on average two times higher downstream than upstream in particular for Zn, Cr, Cu and Cd. Significant differences in condition index were observed (final CI was 0.42 ± 0.03 downstream and 0.31 ± 0.03 upstream) reflecting a better food availability downstream. Moreover a significant decrease of GST activity and digestive enzymes activity in the cristalline style was observed downstream. Interpreting this decrease requires considering not only micro-pollution but also the trophic status related to the water's physicochemistry. The MN test and the CA on gill cells highlighted genotoxicity in mussels transplanted downstream compared to upstream.