Biomarkers relevant to oil and gas industrial activities in low temperature marine ecosystems
Because of its geographical location, the Arctic environment is considered as pristine. However, expanding industrial activities in the Arctic require assessment of the toxicity of chemicals at low temperature. Biomarkers defined as "biological responses to a chemical or chemicals that give a measure of exposure or toxic effect" were shown to be relevant to measure in situ impact of oil discharges. Most biomarker studies have been performed with temperate organisms. The Arctic is characterised by low stable temperature, strong seasonality in light, resulting in a short primary production in Spring. Therefore, indigenous organisms have developed specific adaptations to live with a hmited food supply in water near freezing point. Conversely, physical properties of petroleum hydrocarbons are affected by low temperature (i.e. reduced solubility). Consequently, the biological adaptation of cold-water organisms together with the altered oil behaviour, may affect typical biomarker responses. Because oil compounds are strongly prooxidant, the research strategy of this work was based on oxidative stress. The antioxidant defences were investigated by measuring the total oxyradical scavenging capacity (TOSC). The impact of reactive oxygen species was investigated by measuring the stability of the cell membranes. Finally, the physiology of the organisms was considered by looking at heart and respiration rates. Invertebrates were selected for study owing to their abundance in the polar ecosystem. They were sampled using dredges and Scuba diving from the research vessel Jan Mayen (University of Tromso) in May and August 1999, and during May and September 2000 in the l^ords of Svalbard and in Antarctica as well in January 2000. In the Arctic, two bivalves, Mya tnincata and Chlamys islandicus, and two crustaceans, Hyas araneus and Sclerocrangon boreas were selected. In this work, the ecophysiology of Arctic and Antarctic marine invertebrates was investigated and compared to temperate organisms. Polar marine invertebrates are characterised by low respiration and heart rates and a high TOSC. The elevated level of antioxidant defences is thought to reflect the oxidative pressure of the polar marine ecosystem; however, it suggested that a high TOSC may help to protect biomolecules from oxidative damage as repair mechanisms are limited due to the lack of food for 9 months. Organisms were exposed to poly aromatic hydrocarbons either dissolved, dispersed injected or via sediment. TOSC, cell membrane stabiHty and heart rate were valid biomarkers to monitor the impact of poly aromatic hydrocarbons in Arctic marine organisms. The biomarker responses obtained in this study provide essential background information for monitoring the potential impact of oil and gas activities in the Arctic.