Publication Details

Gissi, F., Adams, M. S., King, C. K. & Jolley, D. F. (2015). A robust bioassay to assess the toxicity of metals to the antarctic marine microalga Phaeocystis antarctica. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 34 (7), 1578-1587.


Despite evidence of contamination in Antarctic coastal marine environments, no water-quality guidelines have been established for the region because of a paucity of biological effects data for local Antarctic species. Currently, there is limited information on the sensitivity of Antarctic microalgae to metal contamination, which is exacerbated by the lack of standard toxicity testing protocols for local marine species. In the present study, a routine and robust toxicity test protocol was developed using the Antarctic marine microalga Phaeocystis antarctica, and its sensitivity was investigated following 10-d exposures to dissolved copper, cadmium, lead, zinc, and nickel. In comparisons of 10% inhibition of population growth rate (IC10) values, P. antarctica was most sensitive to copper (3.3 μg/L), followed by cadmium (135 μg/L), lead (260 μg/L), and zinc (450 μg/L). Although an IC10 value for nickel could not be accurately estimated, the no-observed-effect concentration value for nickel was 1070 μg/L. Exposure to copper and cadmium caused changes in internal cell granularity and increased chlorophyll a fluorescence. Lead, zinc, and nickel had no effect on any of the cellular parameters measured. The present study provides valuable metal-ecotoxicity data for an Antarctic marine microalga, with P. antarctica representing one of the most sensitive microalgal species to dissolved copper ever reported when compared with temperate and tropical species.



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