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The alga Ulva lactuca (Ulvaceae, Chlorophyta) as a bioindicator of trace element contamination along the coast of Sicily, Italy
- Bonanno, Giuseppe, Veneziano, Vincenzo, Piccione, Vincenzo
- The Science of the total environment 2020 v.699 pp. 134329
- Ulva lactuca, algae, anthropogenic activities, cadmium, chromium, coasts, copper, lead, marine ecosystems, marine environment, monitoring, nickel, pollution, sediments, thallus, toxicity, zinc, Italy, Sicily
- The marine environment is subjected to ever-increasing levels of contamination, especially along the coastal areas with urban and industrial activities. Consequently, monitoring campaigns on large scales should be conducted on a regular basis for a better management of marine ecosystems. This study tested the capacity of the green alga Ulva lactuca to act as a bioindicator of trace elements along the coasts of Sicily (Italy). The concentrations of the metals Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn were analyzed in samples of water, sediments and U. lactuca thalli, which were collected in ten different sites at diverse levels of human impact. The results showed that U. lactuca can accumulate essential and non-essential elements at similar concentrations. The analysis of trace elements showed also that the metal content in U. lactuca is significantly correlated with the levels of trace elements in water and sediments. U. lactuca fits numerous features that make it one of the best bioindicators of marine pollution, also thanks to its worldwide distribution and capacity to accumulate trace elements under toxic conditions. The use of U. lactuca should be encouraged to set up large-scale monitoring programs, especially in highly impacted seas like the Mediterranean where U. lactuca is widespread.