Publication Details

Nydahl, A. C., King, C. K., Wasley, J., Jolley, D. F. & Robinson, S. A. (2015). Toxicity of fuel-contaminated soil to antarctic moss and terrestrial algae. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 34 (9), 2004-2012.

Additional Publication Information

Research data collection: Sensitivity and response of Antarctic moss and terrestrial algae to fuel contaminants


Fuel pollution is a significant problem in Antarctica, especially in areas where human activities occur, such as at scientific research stations. Despite this, there is little information on the effects of petroleum hydrocarbons on Antarctic terrestrial biota. The authors demonstrate that the Antarctic mosses Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Schistidium antarctici, and Ceratodon purpureus, and the Antarctic terrestrial alga Prasiola crispa are relatively tolerant to Special Antarctic Blend (SAB) fuel-contaminated soil (measured as total petroleum hydrocarbons). Freshly spiked soils were more toxic to all species than were aged soils containing degraded fuel, as measured by photosynthetic efficiency (variable fluorescence/maximum fluorescence [Fv/Fm]), pigment content, and visual observations. Concentrations that caused 20% inhibition ranged from 16 600 mg/kg to 53 200 mg/kg for freshly spiked soils and from 30 100 mg/kg to 56 200 mg/kg for aged soils. The photosynthetic efficiency of C. purpureus and S. antarctici was significantly inhibited by exposure to freshly spiked soils with lowest-observed-effect concentrations of 27 900 mg/kg and 40 400 mg/kg, respectively. Prasiola crispa was the most sensitive species to freshly spiked soils (Fv/Fm lowest-observed-effect concentration 6700 mg/kg), whereas the Fv/Fm of B. pseudotriquetrum was unaffected by exposure to SAB fuel even at the highest concentration tested (62 900 mg/kg). Standard toxicity test methods developed for nonvascular plants can be used in future risk assessments, and sensitivity data will contribute to the development of remediation targets for petroleum hydrocarbons to guide remediation activities in Antarctica



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