Biomarkers: An Integrative Useful Tool for Ecotoxicolgy and Biomonitoring

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2021) | Viewed by 24581

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The application of biomarkers in ecotoxicology and biomonitoring has been rapidly accelerating since the 90s due to their many advantages, including in allowing for expeditious determination. This, however, has resulted in frequent misleading interpretations, mostly due to i) their application without any underlying effects-based monitoring framework; ii) a lack of harmonized protocols and quality assurance methods to support comparability of results; and iii) the use of too many new indicator species for which no baseline information is available. The wealth of information that is often generated when using biomarkers is also often neglected due to the simplistic data analysis and interpretation that is applied, too simplistic to  overcome disadvantages and generate a meaningful conclusion. Nevertheless, this is not taken into account in the improvement of our discussion about their application toward the early diagnosis of environmental health or in risk assessment. More recently, within the scope of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive, efforts have been made to discuss the meaning of each biomarker and to show which can really improve our knowledge and be used as complementary tools for ecotoxicology and biomonitoring. This exercise needs, however, to be extended not only to freshwater systems, but to all studies concerning biomarkers. Thus, this Special Issue aims to gather the latest research that contributes toward answering the following questions: (1) How can we complement toxicity data with valuable information acquired from biomarker analysis?; (2) How can different biological models deal with stressful conditions as a function of their physiological status?; (3) What is the ecological relevance of biomarkers and their association with deleterious effects at higher levels of biological organization?; and (4) Which biomarkers, and bioindicator species, are meaningful and relevant for biomonitoring studies? Research studies concerning the use of biomarkers in other topics are also very welcome, namely, innovative statistical analysis and interpretation, studies of comparative physiology, wastewater quality and reuse, micro- and nanoplastic contamination, as well as the development of new methods or protocols are all within the scope of this Special Issue.

Dr. Carlos Gravato
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • histopathology
  • oxidative stress
  • cellular energy allocation
  • behavior
  • neurotoxicity
  • immunotoxicity
  • non-invasive biomarkers
  • ecotoxicogenomics
  • genotoxicity

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 2343 KiB  
Article
Differential Molecular Responses of Zebrafish Larvae to Fluoxetine and Norfluoxetine
by Pedro Rodrigues, Virgínia Cunha, Marta Ferreira, Maria Armanda Reis-Henriques, Luís Oliva-Teles, Laura Guimarães and António Paulo Carvalho
Water 2022, 14(3), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14030417 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2906
Abstract
The occurrence of psychopharmaceuticals in aquatic ecosystems is a growing problem. Fluoxetine (FL) and its metabolite norfluoxetine (NF) are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Although they may be potentially harmful to non-target species, available knowledge on the effects of NF is sparse, relative to [...] Read more.
The occurrence of psychopharmaceuticals in aquatic ecosystems is a growing problem. Fluoxetine (FL) and its metabolite norfluoxetine (NF) are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Although they may be potentially harmful to non-target species, available knowledge on the effects of NF is sparse, relative to FL. This study aimed at contributing to the body of knowledge about the modes-of-action (MoA) of these compounds and their underlying mechanisms eliciting hazardous effects during the early development of the teleost model zebrafish (Danio rerio). One hour post-fertilisation (hpf), embryos were exposed up to 80 hpf to these compounds at levels found in surface waters and higher (FL, 0.0015 and 0.05 µM; NF, 0.00006 and 0.0014 µM). Developmental anomalies were observed at 8, 32 and 80 hpf. Larvae were collected at 80 hpf to assess the expression of 34 genes related to FL and NF MoA and metabolism, using qPCR (quantitative reverse transcription PCR). Results showed that both compounds elicited an increased frequency of embryos exhibiting abnormal pigmentation, relative to controls. Gene expression alterations were more pronounced in FL- than in NF-exposed larvae. Cluster Analysis revealed two groups of genes discriminating between the drugs. for their marked opposing responses. Globally, downregulation of gene expression was typical of FL, whilst upregulation or no alteration was found for NF. These clusters identified were linked to the adrenergic pathway and to the retinoid and peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptors. Overall, our data contradict the prevailing notion that NF is more toxic than FL and unveiled the expression levels of genes drd2b, 5-ht2c and abcc2 as possible markers of exposure to FL. Full article
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11 pages, 1359 KiB  
Article
Urea Excretion and Arginase Activity as New Biomarkers for Nitrite Stress in Freshwater Aquatic Animals
by Gaetana Napolitano, Gianluca Fasciolo, Claudio Agnisola and Paola Venditti
Water 2021, 13(24), 3521; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13243521 - 9 Dec 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2694
Abstract
Background: In recent years, the concern has been growing on increasing aquatic nitrite levels due to anthropogenic activities. Crustaceans and fish easily uptake nitrite via the chloride uptake system of gills. High nitrite body levels may interfere with nitric oxide (NO) production by [...] Read more.
Background: In recent years, the concern has been growing on increasing aquatic nitrite levels due to anthropogenic activities. Crustaceans and fish easily uptake nitrite via the chloride uptake system of gills. High nitrite body levels may interfere with nitric oxide (NO) production by nitric oxide synthase (NOS). The arginase, which catalyzes arginine conversion to ornithine and urea, is central to NO homeostasis. In vivo, changes in the arginase activity alter urea body levels and urea excretion and modulate NOS by altering arginine availability for NO synthesis. Excess arginase activity may uncouple NOS and induce oxidative stress. Methods: We tested muscle arginase activity and urea excretion in two fish species, zebrafish and convict cichlid, and the crustacean Yamato shrimp, under sub-lethal nitrite stress. Results: Exposure to nitrite (2 mM in the fish, 1 mM in the shrimp) significantly increased blood nitrite concentration in all species. Concomitantly, nitrite stress significantly increased arginase activity, urea excretion, and urea levels in the blood. In Yamato shrimp, urea levels also increased in muscle. Conclusion: Our results agree with the hypothesis that nitrite stress affects NO homeostasis by arginase stimulation and urea excretion. These parameters might function as markers of sub-lethal nitrite stress in freshwater fish and crustaceans. Full article
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15 pages, 1626 KiB  
Article
Meeting the Salinity Requirements of the Bivalve Mollusc Crassostrea gigas in the Depuration Process and Posterior Shelf-Life Period to Improve Food Safety and Product Quality
by João A. Silvestre, Sílvia F. S. Pires, Vitória Pereira, Miguel Colaço, Ana P. L. Costa, Amadeu M. V. M. Soares, Domitília Matias, Filipa Bettencourt, Sergio Fernández-Boo, Rui J. M. Rocha and Andreia C. M. Rodrigues
Water 2021, 13(8), 1126; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081126 - 20 Apr 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3899
Abstract
Microbiological contamination of bivalve molluscs is one of the major concerns inherent to food safety, thus depuration is frequently needed to assure food safety levels associated with their consumption. Salinity plays an important role in the metabolic activity of bivalves and as such [...] Read more.
Microbiological contamination of bivalve molluscs is one of the major concerns inherent to food safety, thus depuration is frequently needed to assure food safety levels associated with their consumption. Salinity plays an important role in the metabolic activity of bivalves and as such can influence their depuration capacity. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of salinity (25, 30, 35 and 40) on the efficiency of the depuration process, along with the quality and shelf-life of Crassostrea gigas. For this, a 24-h depuration was carried out, followed by a storage period at 5 ± 1 °C for six days. Microbiological analyses and biochemical parameters related to oxidative stress response were analysed. Escherichia coli load was reduced in only 24 h, disregarding the salinity of the system. After the shelf-life period, the activity of the antioxidant defences at salinities 35 and 40 is higher but is still not sufficient to avoid lipid peroxidation. Over time, there is a decrease in oyster metabolism probably due to being chilled and to the action of exposure to air. In sum, this study suggests salinities between 25 and 30 as preferential for the depuration process of C. gigas and subsequent quality during shelf-life. Full article
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13 pages, 3210 KiB  
Article
Behavioral Parameters of Planarians (Girardia tigrina) as Fast Screening, Integrative and Cumulative Biomarkers of Environmental Contamination: Preliminary Results
by Ana M. Córdova López, Althiéris de Souza Saraiva, Carlos Gravato, Amadeu M. V. M. Soares and Renato Almeida Sarmento
Water 2021, 13(8), 1077; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13081077 - 14 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3274
Abstract
The present study aims to use behavioral responses of the freshwater planarian Girardia tigrina to assess the impact of anthropogenic activities on the aquatic ecosystem of the watershed Araguaia-Tocantins (Tocantins, Brazil). Behavioral responses are integrative and cumulative tools that reflect changes in energy [...] Read more.
The present study aims to use behavioral responses of the freshwater planarian Girardia tigrina to assess the impact of anthropogenic activities on the aquatic ecosystem of the watershed Araguaia-Tocantins (Tocantins, Brazil). Behavioral responses are integrative and cumulative tools that reflect changes in energy allocation in organisms. Thus, feeding rate and locomotion velocity (pLMV) were determined to assess the effects induced by the laboratory exposure of adult planarians to water samples collected in the region of Tocantins-Araguaia, identifying the sampling points affected by contaminants. Furthermore, physicochemical and microbiological parameters, as well as the presence of inorganic compounds (dissolved aluminum, total barium, total chloride, dissolved iron, total fluoride, total manganese, nitrates, nitric nitrogen, total sulfate, total zinc) and surfactants, were determined on each specific sampling point. The behavioral biomarkers (feeding rate and pLMV) of the freshwater planarians were significantly decreased when organisms were exposed to water samples from four municipalities (Formoso do Araguaia, Lagoa da Confusão, Gurupi and Porto Nacional), sites of the Tocantins-Araguaia hydrographic region—TAHR. Both behavioral biomarkers decreased up to ~37–39% compared to organisms in ASTM medium only. Our results showed that these behavioral biomarkers can be used for fast screening monitoring of environmental samples of freshwater ecosystems, since a decrease in feeding rate and locomotor activity was observed in sites impacted by anthropogenic activities. However, the absence of effects observed in some sampling points does not represent the absence of contamination, since several other classes of contaminants were not determined. In these negative results, the absence of deleterious effects on behavioral biomarkers might only be indicative that the potential presence of contaminants on such sites does not significantly affect the performance of planarians. This fast screening approach seems to be useful to determine contaminated sites in freshwater ecosystems for biomonitoring purposes. This knowledge will help to develop biomonitoring programs and to decide appropriate sampling sites and analysis. Full article
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14 pages, 2056 KiB  
Article
Tail Coiling Assay in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Embryos: Stage of Development, Promising Positive Control Candidates, and Selection of an Appropriate Organic Solvent for Screening of Developmental Neurotoxicity (DNT)
by Andréia A. S. de Oliveira, Tamires A. V. Brigante and Danielle P. Oliveira
Water 2021, 13(2), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13020119 - 7 Jan 2021
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 4369
Abstract
It is relatively recent that tail coiling assay in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos has been proposed as an alternative method to screen for developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) induced by chemicals. Despite the considerable use of the method, there is no consensus related [...] Read more.
It is relatively recent that tail coiling assay in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos has been proposed as an alternative method to screen for developmental neurotoxicity (DNT) induced by chemicals. Despite the considerable use of the method, there is no consensus related to the most suitable age of embryos and other experimental parameters. Non-exposed embryos were videotaped for tail-coiling activity from 18 to 54 h post-fertilization (hpf) and after exposure to positive control candidates (caffeine, fluoxetine, and tricaine (MS-222)) and organic solvents (acetone, dimethyl-sulfoxide (DMSO), and ethanol) from 26.0 to 28.5 hpf. Results demonstrated that embryos from 22 to 29 hpf presented a constant coiling activity, with no significant differences between the activity measurements. We also found that stimulant properties of caffeine and the anesthetic effects of MS-222 induced hyperactivity and hypoactivity, respectively. Finally, even using DMSO at 1%, it seems to be safer as a solvent for neurotoxicity evaluation by tail coiling assay. The period from 26.0 to 28.5 hpf was appropriate for a fast protocol of tail coiling assay. Caffeine and MS-222 were demonstrated to be promising positive control candidates, whereas DMSO was considered the most appropriate solvent choice for tail coiling assay. Full article
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10 pages, 947 KiB  
Article
Challenges and Opportunities for Integrating In Silico Models and Adverse Outcomes Pathways to Set and Relate New Biomarkers
by Carlos E. Matos dos Santos, Raul Ghiraldelli Miranda, Danielle Palma de Oliveira and Daniel Junqueira Dorta
Water 2020, 12(12), 3549; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123549 - 17 Dec 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2438
Abstract
The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework has been considered the most innovative tool to collect, organize, and evaluate relevant information on the toxicological effects of chemicals, facilitating the establishment of links between molecular events and adverse outcomes at the critical level of biological [...] Read more.
The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework has been considered the most innovative tool to collect, organize, and evaluate relevant information on the toxicological effects of chemicals, facilitating the establishment of links between molecular events and adverse outcomes at the critical level of biological organization. Considering the combination of the high volume of toxicological and ecotoxicological data produced and the application of artificial intelligence algorithms from the last few years, not only can higher mechanistic interpretability be reached with new in silico models, but also a potential increase in predictivity in hazard assessments and the identification of new potential biomarkers can be achieved. The current paper aims to discuss some potential challenges and ways of integrating in silico models and AOPs to predict toxicological effects and to set and relate new biomarkers for defined purposes. With the use of the AOP framework to organize the ecotoxicological, toxicological, and structural data generated from in chemico, in vitro, ex vivo, in vivo, and population studies, it is expected that the generated biological and chemical construct will improve its application, establishing a knowledge platform to set and relate new biomarkers by key event relationships (KERs). Full article
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14 pages, 11025 KiB  
Article
Seasonal Variation and Assessment of Fish Resources in the Yangtze Estuary Based on Environmental DNA
by Hui Jia, Yibang Wang, Susumu Yoshizawa, Wataru Iwasaki, Yuquan Li, Weiwei Xian and Hui Zhang
Water 2020, 12(10), 2874; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102874 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 3678
Abstract
In the past few years, environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques have been used to monitor marine communities. Research indicates that eDNA is an effective tool for monitoring fishery resources. This study analyzed the seasonal variations in fish resources in the Yangtze Estuary, China, using [...] Read more.
In the past few years, environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques have been used to monitor marine communities. Research indicates that eDNA is an effective tool for monitoring fishery resources. This study analyzed the seasonal variations in fish resources in the Yangtze Estuary, China, using eDNA. A total of 103 water samples were collected from the Yangtze Estuary across the four seasons in 2019—20 samples in February, 28 in May, 28 in August and 27 in November. Our research successfully detected the fishery resources of the Yangtze Estuary. We found significant differences according to the season. The results showed that 59 species were identified in 2019 (20 in February, 16 in May, 5 in August and 45 in November) and fish species varied widely over the four seasons. Furthermore, our samples revealed significant differences in annual fish stocks in the Yangtze Estuary, compared with eDNA data from 2018 and with traditional surveys from past years. Overall, eDNA is a useful emerging tool to assist with monitoring and protecting fish resources for the Yangtze Estuary. Full article
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