Evaluation of techniques for the assessment of biomarker responses in selected molluscs and crustaceans for in situ environmental assessment
There is a constant and increasing need for sensitive and relevant information regarding the effects of the chronic exposure of coastal and marine ecosystems to anthropogenically derived chemicals and stressors. If these environments are to be preserved and maintained then an increased availability of techniques to aid in the understanding of pollutant effect will be of significant advantage. This work examines the use of a suite of biomarkers of marine pollution exposure and effect to determine environmental quality and the effect of pollutants on marine organisms. The aim is to examine the sensitivity of a range of techniques and their applicability to field monitoring. The blue mussel Mytilus edulis and the shore crab, Carcinus maenas, were chosen as test organisms. A range of techniques, including lysosomal membrane tests, cardiac monitoring, histopathology, and embryonic bioassays have been utilised. The robustness of the neutral red test in mussels is demonstrated in a range of laboratory and field studies. Confounding factors, such as variability and operator bias, are discussed. Significant advances have been made in the application of the lysosomal neutral red test to crabs. Laboratory and field test data are presented demonstrating the application of this test. Significant new linkages are shown between the biomarkers under test. Field data are presented showing links between subcellular membrane disruption, increased tissue abnormalities and the consequences of this on reproductive ability. Additional data are presented on the use of a freshwater mussel, Anodonta cygnea, as a sentinel animal. Links between cardiac activity and sub-cellular disruption are shown. Finally, field data are presented demonstrating the application of the methods under test as a rapid method of establishing environmental quality. Fieldwork conducted in the Black Sea region shows a significant correlation with inventories of land based emissions and biological proof of suspected poor areas of environmental quality.