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[Annelida] Chronic exposure to copper and zinc induces DNA damage in a key benthic species, and the implications for future toxicity of coastal sites.

Gordon Watson via annelida%40net.bio.net (by gordon.watson from port.ac.uk)
Tue Jan 15 09:13:19 EST 2019

Dear Polychaete biologist

As a fellow researcher in the field of polychaetes I am sure you will agree
that it is critical we understand the long term impacts of common
pollutants on benthic species.  Our paper, recently published in
Environmental Pollution, has shown for the first time that sediment
containing copper and zinc at environmentally relevant concentrations
induces significant increases in DNA damage in the ragworm *Alitta virens*.
As these metals are ubiquitous pollutants, most of our coastal sediments
are likely to be mutagenic to key benthic organisms.  However, most
worryingly, the concentrations of these metals are stable or increasing for
many areas in the UK, which are typical of sites across the world.

The paper is available via the Elsevier system so please take a look and
pass on to interested colleagues, however we have also attached the paper
as a PDF.

 (pages 1498-1508)

Please don't hesitate to email if you require further information and you
can also see some other papers my group has published at:


*AbstractCopper and zinc are metals that have been traditionally thought of
as past contamination legacies.  However, their industrial use is still
extensive and current applications (e.g. nanoparticles and antifouling
paints) have become additional marine environment delivery routes.
Determining a pollutant’s genotoxicity is an ecotoxicological priority, but
in marine benthic systems putative substances responsible for sediment
genotoxicity have rarely been identified.  Studies that use sediment as the
delivery matrix combined with exposures over life-history relevant
timescales are also missing for metals.  Here we assess copper and zinc’s
genotoxicity by exposing the ecologically important polychaete Alitta
virens to sediment spiked with environmentally relevant concentrations for
9 months.  Target bioavailable sediment and subsequent porewater
concentrations reflect the global contamination range for coasts, whilst
tissue concentrations, although elevated, were comparable with other
polychaetes.  Survival generally reduced as concentrations increased, but
monthly analyses show that growth was not significantly different between
treatments.  The differential treatment mortality may have enabled the
surviving worms in the high concentration treatments to capture more food
thus removing any concentration treatment effects for biomass.  Using the
alkaline comet assay we confirm that both metals via the sediment are
genotoxic at concentrations routinely found in coastal regions and this is
supported by elevated DNA damage in worms from field sites.  However,
combined with the growth data it also highlights the tolerance of A. virens
to DNA damage.  Finally, using long term (decadal) monitoring data we show
stable or increasing sediment concentrations of these metals for many
areas.  This will potentially mean coastal sediment is a significant
mutagenic hazard to the benthic community for decades to come.  An urgent
reappraisal of the current input sources for these ‘old pollutants’ is,
therefore, required.  *

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