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Evaluation of multi-biomarker response in fish intestine as an initial indication of anthropogenic impact in the aquatic karst environment

Mijošek, Tatjana, Filipović Marijić, Vlatka, Dragun, Zrinka, Krasnići, Nesrete, Ivanković, Dušica, Erk, Marijana
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.660 pp. 1079-1090
Salmo trutta, acetylcholinesterase, anthropogenic activities, antioxidant activity, arsenic, autumn, biomarkers, cadmium, calcium, catalase, cesium, cobalt, copper, cytosol, ecosystems, enzyme activity, fish, glutathione, intestines, karsts, malondialdehyde, metallothionein, monitoring, municipal wastewater, nickel, oxidative stress, pesticides, pollution, river water, rivers, seasonal variation, sodium, strontium
In order to assess the extent of existing anthropogenic influence on biota of the vulnerable karst ecosystem of the Krka River, multi-biomarker approach was applied in the intestinal tissue of brown trout Salmo trutta Linnaeus, 1758. Biomarkers of the general stress (total cytosolic proteins), oxidative stress (malondialdehyde), antioxidant capacity (catalase activity, total glutathione) and of an exposure and effect of contaminants, especially metals (metallothionein) and organophosphorous pesticides and metals (acetylcholine esterase activity) were compared in the intestine of fish from the reference site (river source) and downstream of the technological and municipal wastewater impacted site (town of Knin) in two seasons, October 2015 and May 2016. Biological response was additionally evaluated by metal/metalloid concentrations in intestinal cytosol. Site-specific differences were observed as significantly higher As, Ca, Co, Cu, Se and Sr concentrations in intestinal cytosol of fish from the contaminated compared to the reference site. Significant seasonal differences existed for Ni, Cd, Mo, Cs and Na, with higher levels in autumn, following the trend of most of the dissolved metal levels in the river water. Impact of improperly treated wastewaters was also confirmed by significantly increased levels of glutathione, total proteins and Foulton condition indices, with 1.5, 1.13 and 1.12 times higher average values in fish from that site compared to the river source, respectively. The other biomarkers showed similar trend and pointed to specific biological changes regarding oxidative stress or metal exposure in fish from the anthropogenically impacted site, especially in autumn, but without significant differences. Thus, the anthropogenic impact still seems to be only moderate, although cytosolic metals and most of the biomarkers in fish intestine were confirmed as initial indicators of pollution impact, which pointed to the need of continuous monitoring of the Krka River in order to protect this natural karst world phenomenon.