- Toxicity of coastal waters: use of a quick algal bioassay
- SETAC Europe 21nd Annual Meeting Milan
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Primary production by microalgae embodies the carrying capacity of marine ecosystems and is primarily linked to nutrient availability and light. However, recent studies indicate that certain industrial chemicals may have a direct impact on coastal plankton communities and hence on the carrying capacity of estuarine and marine ecosystems. At the same time the frequency and intensity of toxic algal blooms in the coastal zone are increasing globally, resulting in increased levels of toxins prospected to affect coastal ecosystems. These different chemical stressors are hypothesized to disturb regulatory mechanisms within algal communities, modifying the competitive abilities of individual species and resulting in shifts from highly nutritious to unfavourable algal species that destabilize the food chain. It remains however difficult to quantify the toxic effects of these chemicals: the relative contribution of anthropogenic and natural chemicals on the total chemical pressure is unknown. Also insight in the potential synergistic action of toxicants and toxins is lacking, while in the field many confounding factors (e.g. changing nutrient and light regimes) may mask effects.
The first step to unravel the complex interaction between algae and toxic pressure is to provide knowledge on chemical compounds causing phytotoxic effects. In this study we use passive samplers which extract the freely dissolved concentration in the water during a period of 6 weeks to take episodic events into account. The concentrated extracts are tested in an algal bioassay with different marine algal species (e.g. Dunaliella tertiolecta, Phaeodactylum tricornutum) to include differences in algal sensitivity. Use of Pulse Amplified Modulation (PAM) fluorometry provides a quick (4.5h) method to determine toxicity to algae based on changes in photosynthetic efficiency.
An Effect Directed Analysis (EDA) will be performed to unravel which chemical compounds are responsible for the toxic effect on the algae. In 2010-2011 passive samplers are exposed at Hansweert (Westerscheldt, The Netherlands) and collected every 6 weeks to include the seasonal dynamics of both anthropogenic as well as natural compounds. Here, first results of this sampling campaign are presented and discussed. The results of the EDA analysis will be used
in experiments where mixture toxicity, multi stress and community effects are taken into account to describe the overall toxic effect under relevant field conditions.
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