Effects on sea urchin fertilization and embryogenesis of water and sediment from two rivers in Campania, Italy

Giovanni Pagano, Bruno Anselmi, Paul A. Dinnel, Agostino Esposito, Marco Guida, Mario Iaccarino, Giovanni Melluso, Marinella Pascale, Norman M. Trieff

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Sea urchin embryos and sperm were utilized for evaluating the toxicity of water and sediment from two rivers, the Sarno (S) River and the Volturno (V) River, in the Campania region, Italy. The effects on developing embryos were evaluated by scoring developmental defects, whereas sperm exposure was tested for the effects on fertilization and offspring quality. Ten sampling sites from the rivers (S.1-S.4 and V.1-V.6) were monitored for water and sediment quality. Water sampling was carried out biweekly for a year (1988-1989); the samples were tested at dilutions 10-4 to 10-2 in natural seawater. Sediment tests were carried out on solid phase samples (collected in 1989 to 1992), at concentrations ranging from 2 to 10 mg/ml (dry wt) in seawater. The tests conducted on water samples mostly led to nonsignificant results in either embryo-or spermiotoxicity, possibly due to sharp changes in pollutant levels in the water column. Unlike water, sediment samples displayed clear-cut results both on embryogenesis and on fertilization success. The grain size of sediment failed to reveal any relationship with toxicity, which could only be referred to the presence of toxic contaminants (Melluso et al., 1993). The most polluted sediment samples displayed a dramatic embryo-toxicity, up to approximately 87% developmental arrest in embryos reared in 2 mg/ml of sediment from site S.1 (affected by leather tanning effluent). These results were independent of storage conditions of sediment samples (i.e., at +4°C or -20°C). A decrease in fertilization success was also induced by sediment samples from polluted sites (not by a relatively unpolluted reference sample). Interestingly, sediment spermiotoxicity appeared to be related to storage temperature in samples from two agricultural sites (S.3 and V.6), in that freezing caused a drop in sample spermiotoxicity compared to refrigeration; e.g., a sample from site V.6 stored at +4°C decreased fertilization rate (FR) to 9% versus a control value of 86%, whereas the same sample induced but a minor change following storage at -20°C (FR=68%). In general, a better reliability was observed for sediment bioassays than for water bioassays, thus suggesting that future biomonitoring studies should mainly focus on sediment quality. The use of solid phase sediment in toxicity testing by sea urchin embryos and sperm is warranted by the present results. © 1993 Springer-Verlag.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20 - 26
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)

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