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Integrated use of histological and ultrastructural biomarkers in Mugil cephalus for assessing heavy metal pollution in Ennore estuary, Chennai

Arockia Vasanthi, Lourduraj, Revathi, Peranandam, Mini, Jayaprakash, Munuswamy, Natesan
Chemosphere 2013 v.91 pp. 1156-1164
Mugil cephalus, bioaccumulation, biomarkers, cadmium, copper, droplets, electron microscopy, environmental quality, estuaries, fish, gills, heavy metals, histopathology, indicator species, iron, lead, liver, manganese, monitoring, muscles, pollution, zinc
Bioaccumulation of heavy metals and its associated histological perturbations were studied in various tissues of Mugil cephalus collected from Ennore estuary and compared with the fish collected from off-shore region. The concentration of copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, manganese and iron were quantified in gills, liver and muscle. The results showed marked differences between the two sites as well as significant variations within the tissues. The decreasing trend of metals in the tissues of fish sampled from both Ennore estuary and off-shore was in the order of Fe>Mn>Zn>Cu>Pb>Cd. Overall, the highest metal concentrations were found in the fish collected from Ennore estuary. The accumulation in the gills and liver of M. cephalus was found to be quite high in comparison with the muscle. These tissues were further investigated by light and electron microscopy and the results were compared with the reference site (off-shore region). The presence of large lipid droplets in liver and increase of mucous cells in gills were some of the most noticeable alterations observed and were related to heavy metal contaminants. It is concluded that histopathological and ultrastructural biomarkers provide reliable and discriminatory data to augment heavy metal pollution in Ennore estuary. Therefore, long-term monitoring is necessary to assess the eco-health of the Ennore estuarine environment by choosing bio-indicator species like M. cephalus, which provide accurate, reliable measurements of environmental quality.