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Water quality of the Meuse watershed : Assessment using a multi-biomarker approach with caged three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.)

Abstract : The use of a multi-biomarker approach with three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) through an active biomonitoring strategy appears to be a promising tool in water quality assessment. The present work proposes to assess the efficiency of these tools in the discrimination of some sites in a large scale on the Meuse basin in Europe. The study was part of an EU program which aims to assess water quality in the Meuse across the French-Belgian border. Sticklebacks were caged 21 days upstream and downstream from the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) of Namur (Belgium), Charleville-Mézières (France), Bouillon (Belgium) and Avesnes-sur-Helpe (France). First, the state of a variety of physiological functions was assessed using a battery of biomarkers that represented innate immunity (leucocyte mortality and distribution, phagocytosis activity, respiratory burst), antioxidant system (GPx, CAT, SOD and total GSH content), oxidative damages to the membrane lipids (TBARS), biotransformation enzymes (EROD, GST), synaptic transmission (AChE) and reproduction system (spiggin and vitellogenin concentration). The impacts of the effluents were first analysed for each biomarker using a mixed model ANOVA followed by post-hoc analyses. Secondly, the global river contamination was assessed using a principal component analysis (PCA) followed by a hierarchical agglomerative clustering (HAC). The results highlighted a small number of effects of WWTP effluents on the physiological parameters in caged sticklebacks. Despite a significant effect of the “localisation” factor (upstream/downstream) in the mixed ANOVA for several biomarkers, post-hoc analyses revealed few differences between upstream and downstream of the WWTPs. Only a significant decrease of innate immune responses was observed downstream from the WWTPs of Avesnes-sur-Helpe and Namur. Other biomarker responses were not impacted by WWTP effluents. However, the multivariate analyses (PCA and HAC) of the biomarker responses helped to clearly discriminate the different study sites from the reference but also amongst themselves. Thus, a reduction of general condition (condition index and HSI) was observed in all groups of caged sticklebacks, associated with a weaker AChE activity in comparison with the reference population. A strong oxidative stress was highlighted in fish caged in the Meuse river at Charleville-Mézières whereas sticklebacks caged in the Meuse river at Namur exhibited weaker innate immune responses than others. Conversely, sticklebacks caged in the Helpe-Majeure river at Avesnes-sur-Helpe exhibited higher immune responses. Furthermore, weak defence capacities were recorded in fish caged in the Semois river at Bouillon. This experiment was the first to propose an active biomonitoring approach using three-spined stickleback to assess such varied environments. Low mortality and encouraging results in site discrimination support the use of this tool to assess the quality of a large number of water bodies.
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Submitted on : Monday, August 9, 2021 - 5:10:46 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 10, 2021 - 3:32:34 AM

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Audrey Catteau, Anne Bado-Nilles, Rémy Beaudouin, Cléo Tebby, Sandrine Joachim, et al.. Water quality of the Meuse watershed : Assessment using a multi-biomarker approach with caged three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.). Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, Elsevier, 2021, 208, pp.art. 111407. ⟨10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.111407⟩. ⟨ineris-03318331⟩

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