Insights on Ecotoxicological Effects of Anthropogenic Contaminants in Aquatic Organisms

A special issue of Toxics (ISSN 2305-6304). This special issue belongs to the section "Ecotoxicology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2022) | Viewed by 28949

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per la Ricerca e l’Innovazione Biomedica, Via Ugo La Malfa 153, 90146 Palermo, Italy
Interests: Analysis at molecular and cellular levels of the stress response to chemical and physical agents using the sea urchin embryo as model

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per la Ricerca e l’Innovazione Biomedica, Via Ugo La Malfa 153, 90146 Palermo, Italy
Interests: Analysis at cellular level of signalling pathways affected by physical and chemical stressors; in the sea urchin embyo

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Guest Editor
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto per la Ricerca e l’Innovazione Biomedica, Via Ugo La Malfa 153, 90146 Palermo, Italy
Interests: Molecular biology applied to Environment and Health; Study of signaling pathways induced by physical and chemical cellular stress; in the sea urchin embryo

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Many types of contaminants produced by human activities are released into the aquatic environment, causing damage to the ecosystems with harmful effects on the health of marine and freshwater biota and, through trophic transfer, on humans. These contaminants can be found in the water column and in the coastal sediments near human activities releasing industrial, agricultural, hospitals, and domestic wastes. Ecotoxicological studies, from field campaigns to laboratory experiments, are increasingly needed to better understand the impact of these contaminants, especially as mixtures, on aquatic biota. Many aquatic organisms, especially invertebrates, have been used for many decades as model systems for ecotoxicological studies, as they are sensitive to changes in the environment, have a relatively short life cycle, and are easily manipulated in the laboratory. Therefore, they are very suitable as bioindicators for both marine and freshwater pollution.

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to the Special Issue on “Insights on Ecotoxicological Effects of Anthropogenic Contaminants in Aquatic Organisms”.

This Special Issue aims to study the ecotoxicological response of aquatic organisms to anthropogenic contaminants, with the ambition of expanding knowledge on the mechanisms regulating stress response at the individual and population levels, using cellular and molecular approaches. Studies reporting the combination of different contaminants are encouraged, along with analyses that utilize high-throughput methodologies.

In this Special Issue, original research articles, reviews, and short communications are welcome. Research areas may include (but are not limited to) studies on anthropogenic contaminants such as trace metals, pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides), antifouling biocide, endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC), pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), flame retardants.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Rosa Bonaventura
Dr. Francesca Zito
Dr. Roberta Russo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxics is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • pollution
  • invertebrates
  • stress response
  • teratogenicity
  • monitoring
  • biomarkers
  • marine ecosystem
  • heavy metals
  • pesticides
  • drugs

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

3 pages, 216 KiB  
Editorial
Special Issue on “Insights on Ecotoxicological Effects of Anthropogenic Contaminants in Aquatic Organisms”
by Rosa Bonaventura, Francesca Zito and Roberta Russo
Toxics 2023, 11(4), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11040311 - 27 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1095
Abstract
In human history, many key points have characterized technological progress, such as the use of metals, which began in prehistoric times and continues to the present day, with many industrial uses [...] Full article

Research

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21 pages, 4517 KiB  
Article
Ecotoxicological Effects of the Anionic Surfactant Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS) in Two Marine Primary Producers: Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Ulva lactuca
by Ricardo Cruz de Carvalho, Eduardo Feijão, Ana Rita Matos, Maria Teresa Cabrita, Andrei B. Utkin, Sara C. Novais, Marco F. L. Lemos, Isabel Caçador, João Carlos Marques, Patrick Reis-Santos, Vanessa F. Fonseca and Bernardo Duarte
Toxics 2022, 10(12), 780; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10120780 - 13 Dec 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2767
Abstract
Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS) is an anionic surfactant, extensively used in detergents, household and personal care products, as well as in industrial processes. The present study aimed to disclose the potential toxicological effects of SDS exposure under environmentally relevant concentrations (0, 0.1, 1, [...] Read more.
Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (SDS) is an anionic surfactant, extensively used in detergents, household and personal care products, as well as in industrial processes. The present study aimed to disclose the potential toxicological effects of SDS exposure under environmentally relevant concentrations (0, 0.1, 1, 3, and 10 mg L−1) on the physiology and biochemistry (photosynthesis, pigment, and lipid composition, antioxidative systems, and energy balance) of two marine autotrophs: the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum and the macroalgae Ulva lactuca. A growth rate (GR) reduction in P. tricornutum was observed with a classic dose-response effect towards the highest applied concentration, while a GR increase occurred in U. lactuca. Regarding photochemistry, the decrease in the fluorescence of the OJIP curves and laser-induced fluorescence allowed a better separation between SDS treatments in U. lactuca compared with P. tricornutum. Although all pigments significantly decreased in U. lactuca at the highest concentrations (except for antheraxanthin), no significant variations occurred in P. tricornutum. On the other hand, changes in fatty acid content were observed in P. tricornutum but not in U. lactuca. In terms of classical biomarker assessment, a dose-effect relationship of individual biomarkers versus SDS dose applied; U. lactuca displayed a higher number of biomarker candidates, including those in distinct metabolic pathways, increasing its usefulness for ecotoxicological applications. By evaluating the potential application of optical and biochemical traits, it was evident that the fatty acid profiles of the different exposure groups are excellent candidates in P. tricornutum, concomitant with the characteristics of this anionic surfactant. On the other hand, the results presented by laser-induced fluorescence and some parameters of PAM fluorometry in U. lactuca may be an advantage in the field, offering non-invasive, fast, easy-to-use, high-throughput screening techniques as excellent tools for ecotoxicology assessment. Full article
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18 pages, 3256 KiB  
Article
Unravelling the Portuguese Coastal and Transitional Waters’ Microbial Resistome as a Biomarker of Differential Anthropogenic Impact
by Bernardo Duarte, Andreia Figueiredo, Patrício Ramalhosa, João Canning-Clode, Isabel Caçador and Vanessa F. Fonseca
Toxics 2022, 10(10), 613; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10100613 - 15 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1515
Abstract
Portugal mainland and Atlantic archipelagos (Madeira and Azores) provide a wide array of coastal ecosystems with varying typology and degrees of human pressure, which shape the microbial communities thriving in these habitats, leading to the development of microbial resistance traits. The samples collected [...] Read more.
Portugal mainland and Atlantic archipelagos (Madeira and Azores) provide a wide array of coastal ecosystems with varying typology and degrees of human pressure, which shape the microbial communities thriving in these habitats, leading to the development of microbial resistance traits. The samples collected on the Portuguese northeast Atlantic coast waters show an unequivocal prevalence of Bacteria over Archaea with a high prevalence of Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria. Several taxa, such as the Vibrio genus, showed significant correlations with anthropogenic pollution. These anthropogenic pressures, along with the differences in species diversity among the surveyed sites, lead to observed differences in the presence and resistance-related sequences’ abundance (set of all metal and antibiotic resistant genes and their precursors in pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria). Gene ontology terms such as antibiotic resistance, redox regulation and oxidative stress response were prevalent. A higher number of significant correlations were found between the abundance of resistance-related sequences and pollution, inorganic pressures and density of nearby population centres when compared to the number of significant correlations between taxa abundance at different phylogenetic levels and the same environmental traits. This points towards predominance of the environmental conditions over the sequence abundance rather than the taxa abundance. Our data suggest that the whole resistome profile can provide more relevant or integrative answers in terms of anthropogenic disturbance of the environment, either as a whole or grouped in gene ontology groups, appearing as a promising tool for impact assessment studies which, due to the ubiquity of the sequences across microbes, can be surveyed independently of the taxa present in the samples. Full article
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15 pages, 1314 KiB  
Article
Ecotoxicity of Polyvinylidene Difluoride (PVDF) and Polylactic Acid (PLA) Microplastics in Marine Zooplankton
by Michela Di Giannantonio, Chiara Gambardella, Roberta Miroglio, Elisa Costa, Francesca Sbrana, Marco Smerieri, Giovanni Carraro, Roberto Utzeri, Marco Faimali and Francesca Garaventa
Toxics 2022, 10(8), 479; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10080479 - 17 Aug 2022
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 4642
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the ecotoxicity of polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) and polylactic acid (PLA) microplastics (MPs) in two marine zooplankton: the crustacean Artemia franciscana and the cnidarian Aurelia sp. (common jellyfish). To achieve this goal, (i) MP uptake, (ii) [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the ecotoxicity of polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) and polylactic acid (PLA) microplastics (MPs) in two marine zooplankton: the crustacean Artemia franciscana and the cnidarian Aurelia sp. (common jellyfish). To achieve this goal, (i) MP uptake, (ii) immobility, and (iii) behavior (swimming speed, pulsation mode) of crustacean larval stages and jellyfish ephyrae exposed to MPs concentrations (1, 10, 100 mg/L) were assessed for 24 h. Using traditional and novel techniques, i.e., epifluorescence microscopy and 3D holotomography (HT), PVDF and PLA MPs were found in the digestive systems of the crustaceans and in the gelatinous tissue of jellyfish. Immobility was not affected in either organism, while a significant behavioral alteration in terms of pulsation mode was found in jellyfish after exposure to both PVDF and PLA MPs. Moreover, PLA MPs exposure in jellyfish induced a toxic effect (EC50: 77.43 mg/L) on the behavioral response. This study provides new insights into PLA and PVDF toxicity with the potential for a large impact on the marine ecosystem, since jellyfish play a key role in the marine food chain. However, further investigations incorporating additional species belonging to other trophic levels are paramount to better understand and clarify the impact of such polymers at micro scale in the marine environment. These findings suggest that although PVDF and PLA have been recently proposed as innovative and, in the case of PLA, biodegradable polymers, their effects on marine biota should not be underestimated. Full article
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18 pages, 920 KiB  
Article
Physico-Chemical and Ecotoxicological Evaluation of Marine Sediments Contamination: A Case Study of Rovinj Coastal Area, NE Adriatic Sea, Croatia
by Jadranka Pelikan, Nina Majnarić, Maja Maurić Maljković, Kristina Pikelj and Bojan Hamer
Toxics 2022, 10(8), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10080478 - 16 Aug 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2314
Abstract
Comprehensive spatial and temporal data on sediment quality in the Adriatic Sea are lacking. Therefore, prior to planned anthropogenic interventions in the local marine environment, such as deepening of the Rovinj harbour, the results of physicochemical and ecotoxicological analyses of five local coastal [...] Read more.
Comprehensive spatial and temporal data on sediment quality in the Adriatic Sea are lacking. Therefore, prior to planned anthropogenic interventions in the local marine environment, such as deepening of the Rovinj harbour, the results of physicochemical and ecotoxicological analyses of five local coastal sediments were compared with regional averages and SQGs of neighbouring countries. Analyses of sediment grain size, content of metals and heavy metals, PAHs and PCBs were performed according to standard protocols. Sediment quality was classified according to French legislation (N1 and N2 level) and sediment guidelines. The phytotoxicity of the eluates was studied by flax seed germination tests. The logistic regression models Pmax and Pavg were used to estimate the probability of toxic effects. Except for the open sea (S5), all other sediments had concentrations slightly higher than the N1 for some metals (Cu, Ni, Hg, Cr) or ΣPAHs, while the Rovinj harbour (S1) reached the N2 value for mercury. The phytotoxicity assay with sediment eluates showed inhibition of germination, root length and root biomass production, with an average phytotoxicity index (PI) ranging from 6.06% to 42.00%. Significant correlations of Pavg and Pmax values with phytotoxicity and other specific parameters were found. In general, according to the applied SQGs, there are no potential ecological impacts on the marine environment at any of the investigated sites, with the exception of site S1. Full article
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23 pages, 26317 KiB  
Article
Gene Expression Analysis of the Stress Response to Lithium, Nickel, and Zinc in Paracentrotus lividus Embryos
by Rosa Bonaventura, Caterina Costa, Irene Deidda, Francesca Zito and Roberta Russo
Toxics 2022, 10(6), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10060325 - 14 Jun 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2039
Abstract
Many anthropogenic pollutants such as metals are discharged into the marine environment through modern sources. Among these, lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn) can interfere with biological processes in many organisms when their concentration rises. These metals are toxic to sea urchin [...] Read more.
Many anthropogenic pollutants such as metals are discharged into the marine environment through modern sources. Among these, lithium (Li), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn) can interfere with biological processes in many organisms when their concentration rises. These metals are toxic to sea urchin embryos, affecting their development. Indeed, animal/vegetal and dorso/ventral embryonic axes are differently perturbed: Li is a vegetalizing agent, Ni can disrupt dorso-ventral axis, Zn can be animalizing. To address the molecular response adopted by embryos to cope with these metals or involved in the gene networks regulating embryogenesis, and to detect new biomarkers for evaluating hazards in polluted environments in a well-known in vivo model, we applied a high-throughput screening approach to sea urchin embryos. After fertilization, Paracentrotus lividus embryos were exposed to Li, Ni, and Zn for 24/48 h. At both endpoints, RNAs were analyzed by NanoString nCounter technology. By in silico analyses, we selected a panel of 127 transcripts encoding for regulatory and structural proteins, ranked in categories: Apoptosis, Defense, Immune, Nervous, Development, and Biomineralization. The data analysis highlighted the dysregulation of many genes in a metal-dependent manner. A functional annotation analysis was performed by the KEEG Orthology database. This study provides a platform for research on metals biomarkers in sea urchins. Full article
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11 pages, 1051 KiB  
Article
Environmental Co-Exposure to Potassium Perchlorate and Cd Caused Toxicity and Thyroid Endocrine Disruption in Zebrafish Embryos and Larvae (Danio rerio)
by Davide Di Paola, Sabrina Natale, Carmelo Iaria, Rosalia Crupi, Salvatore Cuzzocrea, Nunziacarla Spanò, Enrico Gugliandolo and Alessio Filippo Peritore
Toxics 2022, 10(4), 198; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10040198 - 18 Apr 2022
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 3120
Abstract
The increasing pollution of aquatic habitats with anthropogenic compounds has led to various test strategies to detect hazardous chemicals. However, information on the effects of pollutants on the thyroid system in fish, which is essential for growth, development, and parts of reproduction, is [...] Read more.
The increasing pollution of aquatic habitats with anthropogenic compounds has led to various test strategies to detect hazardous chemicals. However, information on the effects of pollutants on the thyroid system in fish, which is essential for growth, development, and parts of reproduction, is still scarce. Modified early life-stage tests were carried out with zebrafish exposed to the known thyroid inhibitor potassium perchlorate (0.1, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 5 mM) to identify adverse effects on embryo development. The endogenous antioxidant defense mechanism is one of the key functions of the thyroid gland; in this regard, we examined the co-exposure to potassium perchlorate (KClO4), which could disrupt thyroid function, with cadmium (Cd), a known pro-oxidant compound. Zebrafish embryos were exposed to control KClO4 1 mM and Cd 0.5 μM for 96 h after fertilization (hpf) individually and in combination. The morphological alteration, body length, and messenger RNA (mRNA) expression related to thyroid function and oxidative stress, thyroid hormone levels, and malondialdehyde were measured. Significant down-regulation of mRNAs related to thyroid function (thyroid hormone receptor-alpha (THRα), thyroid hormone receptor-beta (THRβ), haematopoietically expressed homeobox (hhex)) and decreased thyroxin (T4) levels were observed after co-exposure to KClO4 and Cd, but this was not observed in the individually treated groups. These results suggest that co-exposure to KClO4 and Cd could affect antioxidant defense mechanisms and potentially normally increase Cd toxicity on mRNA expression, altering the thyroid functions important in zebrafish embryonic developmental stages. Full article
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13 pages, 676 KiB  
Article
Inhibition of Larval Development of Marine Copepods Acartia tonsa by Neonicotinoids
by Marco Picone, Gabriele Giuseppe Distefano, Davide Marchetto, Martina Russo, Marco Baccichet, Roberta Zangrando, Andrea Gambaro and Annamaria Volpi Ghirardini
Toxics 2022, 10(4), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10040158 - 26 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2297
Abstract
Neonicotinoids (NEOs) are neurotoxic pesticides widely used in agriculture due to their high effectiveness against pest insects. Despite their widespread use, very little is known about their toxicity towards marine organisms, including sensitive and ecologically relevant taxa such as copepods. Thus, we investigated [...] Read more.
Neonicotinoids (NEOs) are neurotoxic pesticides widely used in agriculture due to their high effectiveness against pest insects. Despite their widespread use, very little is known about their toxicity towards marine organisms, including sensitive and ecologically relevant taxa such as copepods. Thus, we investigated the toxicity of five widely used NEOs, including acetamiprid (ACE), clothianidin (CLO), imidacloprid (IMI), thiacloprid (THI), and thiamethoxam (TMX), to assess their ability to inhibit the larval development of the copepod Acartia tonsa. The more toxic NEOs were ACE (EC50 = 0.73 μg L−1), TMX (EC50 = 1.71 μg L−1) and CLO (EC50 = 1.90 μg L−1), while the less toxic compound was IMI (EC50 = 8.84 μg L−1). Early life-stage mortality was unaffected by NEOs at all of the tested concentrations. The calculated toxicity data indicated that significant effects due to ACE (EC20 = 0.12 μg L−1), THI (EC20 = 0.88 μg L−1) and TMX (EC20 = 0.18 μg L−1) are observed at concentrations lower than established chronic aquatic life benchmarks reported by USEPA for freshwater invertebrates. Nevertheless, since environmental concentrations of NEOs are generally lower than the threshold concentrations we calculated for A. tonsa, the effects may be currently of concern only in estuaries receiving wastewater discharges or experiencing intense runoff from agriculture. Full article
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Review

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14 pages, 1175 KiB  
Review
Copper Effect on Microalgae: Toxicity and Bioremediation Strategies
by Elena Cavalletti, Giovanna Romano, Fortunato Palma Esposito, Lucia Barra, Pasquale Chiaiese, Sergio Balzano and Angela Sardo
Toxics 2022, 10(9), 527; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10090527 - 6 Sep 2022
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 4830
Abstract
Microalgae are increasingly recognised as suitable microorganisms for heavy metal (HM) removal, since they are able to adsorb them onto their cell wall and, in some cases, compartmentalise them inside organelles. However, at relatively high HM concentrations, they could also show signs of [...] Read more.
Microalgae are increasingly recognised as suitable microorganisms for heavy metal (HM) removal, since they are able to adsorb them onto their cell wall and, in some cases, compartmentalise them inside organelles. However, at relatively high HM concentrations, they could also show signs of stress, such as organelle impairments and increased activities of antioxidant enzymes. The main aim of this review is to report on the mechanisms adopted by microalgae to counteract detrimental effects of high copper (Cu) concentrations, and on the microalgal potential for Cu bioremediation of aquatic environments. Studying the delicate balance between beneficial and detrimental effects of Cu on microalgae is of particular relevance as this metal is widely present in aquatic environments facing industrial discharges. This metal often induces chloroplast functioning impairment, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and growth rate reduction in a dose-dependent manner. However, microalgae also possess proteins and small molecules with protective role against Cu and, in general, metal stress, which increase their resistance towards these pollutants. Our critical literature analysis reveals that microalgae can be suitable indicators of Cu pollution in aquatic environments, and could also be considered as components of eco-sustainable devices for HM bioremediation in association with other organisms. Full article
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19 pages, 960 KiB  
Review
What Caused Declines in Intertidal Invertebrate Populations around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster?
by Toshihiro Horiguchi and Keita Kodama
Toxics 2022, 10(5), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10050214 - 24 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3091
Abstract
We discuss possible causal factors for the decline in intertidal invertebrate populations around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster on the basis of existing knowledge about the effects of radionuclides [...] Read more.
We discuss possible causal factors for the decline in intertidal invertebrate populations around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster on the basis of existing knowledge about the effects of radionuclides and ionizing radiation on aquatic organisms. We found a gap between effects observed in the laboratory and those observed in natural aquatic environments, and discuss possible reasons why. Considering the complexity of the environment, we conclude that it is critical to evaluate the effects of ionizing radiation combined with other biotic and abiotic environmental factors, together with the life-history traits of the species examined, for realistic assessment of population-level effects. Finally, we present possible causal factors for strange or abnormal phenomena observed in intertidal biota near FDNPP, namely declines in population densities and number of species of invertebrates, delayed recovery from these declines, and continuous sexual maturation in the rock shell population. Full article
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