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Nickel has biochemical, physiological, and structural effects on the green microalga Ankistrodesmus falcatus: An integrative study

Martínez-Ruiz, Erika Berenice, Martínez-Jerónimo, Fernando
Aquatic toxicology 2015 v.169 pp. 27-36
Ankistrodesmus falcatus, adverse effects, anthropogenic activities, antioxidants, aquatic environment, aquatic food webs, biomarkers, carbohydrates, catalase, environmental impact, glutathione peroxidase, growth retardation, inhibitory concentration 50, lipids, microalgae, nickel, phytoplankton, pigments, pollutants, population growth, proteins, scanning electron microscopy, superoxide dismutase, surface water, toxicity, transmission electron microscopy
In recent years, the release of chemical pollutants to water bodies has increased due to anthropogenic activities. Ni2+ is an essential metal that causes damage to aquatic biota at high concentrations. Phytoplankton are photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that constitute a fundamental community in aquatic environments because they are primary producers that sustain the aquatic food web. Nickel toxicity has not been characterized in all of the affected levels of biological organization. For this reason, the present study evaluated the toxic effects of nickel on the growth of a primary producer, the green microalga Ankistrodesmus falcatus, and on its biochemical, enzymatic, and structural levels. The IC50 (96h) was determined for Ni2+. Based on this result, five concentrations were determined for additional tests, in which cell density was evaluated daily. At the end of the assay, pigments and six biomarkers, including antioxidant enzymes (catalase [CAT], glutathione peroxidase [GPx], superoxide dismutase [SOD]), and macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates and lipids), were quantified; the integrated biomarker response (IBR) was determined also. The microalgae were observed by SEM and TEM. Population growth was affected starting at 7.5μgL−1 (0.028μM), and at 120μgL−1 (0.450μM), growth was inhibited completely; the determined IC50 was 17μgL−1. Exposure to nickel reduced the concentration of pigments, decreased the content of all of the macromolecules, inhibited of SOD activity, and increased CAT and GPx activities. The IBR revealed that Ni2+ increased the antioxidant response and diminished the macromolecules concentration. A. falcatus was affected by nickel at very low concentrations; negative effects were observed at the macromolecular, enzymatic, cytoplasmic, and morphological levels, as well as in population growth. Ni2+ toxicity could result in environmental impacts with consequences on the entire aquatic community. Current regulations should be revised to protect primary producers.