MEPS 322:155-168 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps322155

Biomarkers of pollution effects in the bivalves Mytilus edulis and Macoma balthica collected from the southern coast of Finland (Baltic Sea)

Kari K. Lehtonen1,*, Sari Leiniö1, Rolf Schneider2, Mirja Leivuori1

1Finnish Institute of Marine Research, PO Box 2, 00561, Helsinki, Finland
2Baltic Sea Research Institute, Department of Biological Oceanography, Seestrasse 15, 18119 Rostock-Warnemünde, Germany

ABSTRACT: Levels of selected biomarkers in 2 bivalve species, the hard-bottom filter-feeder Mytilus edulis and the infaunal deposit/suspension-feeder Macoma balthica were measured in 2 areas (Tvärminne and Turku Archipelago) in the southern coast of Finland. The bivalves were collected for the measurement of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and catalase (CAT) activities, and for the determination of metallothionein (MT) content. The content of organochlorines (8 PCB congeners, DDE, DDD, DDT, HCH, HCB, dieldrin) and selected heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Hg, Zn) were measured in the soft tissues. In M. balthica collected from the Turku Archipelago region, biomarker gradients were observed in MT, GST and CAT, mostly coinciding with the tissue concentrations of total PCBs, DDTs and selected metals. In M. edulis the biomarker responses were less consistent with regard to tissue pollutant concentrations. In the Tvärminne region no marked biomarker gradients were observed. The levels of all biomarkers varied significantly between the two species. The integrated biomarker response (IBR) index showed good accordance with the observed high tissue levels of organochlorines at the northern Airisto station in both species. This study is the first of its kind performed in the coastal waters of Finland, and the results clearly demonstrate the usefulness of the multibiomarker approach. Moreover, the use of 2 sessile species with markedly differing feeding modes and living habitats is considered a rational strategy for assessing the pollution status of coastal sea areas.

KEY WORDS: Biomarkers · Baltic Sea · Bivalves · Macoma balthica · Mytilus edulis · Organochlorines · Heavy metals

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