Author(s): RomeroLopez J, LopezRodas V, Costas E
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Abstract There is increasing scientific interest in how phytoplankton reacts to petroleum contamination, since crude oil and its derivatives are generating extensive contamination of aquatic environments. However, toxic effects of short-term petroleum exposure are more widely known than the adaptation of phytoplankton to long-term petroleum exposure. An analysis of short-term and long-term effects of petroleum exposure was done using experimental populations of freshwater (Scenedesmus intermedius and Microcystis aeruginosa) and marine (Dunaliella tertiolecta) microalgae isolated from pristine sites without crude oil product contamination. These strains were exposed to increased levels of petroleum and diesel oil. Short-term exposure to petroleum or diesel oil revealed a rapid inhibition of photosynthetic performance and cell proliferation in freshwater and marine phytoplankton species. A broad degree of inter-specific variation in lethal contamination level was observed. When different strains were exposed to petroleum or diesel oil over the long-term, the cultures showed massive destruction of the sensitive cells. Nonetheless, after further incubation, some cultures were able to grow again due to cells that were resistant to the toxins. By means of a fluctuation analysis, discrimination between cells that had become resistant due to physiological acclimatization and resistant cells arising from rare spontaneous mutations was accomplished. In addition, an analysis was done as to the maximum capacity of adaptation to a gradual contamination process. An experimental ratchet protocol was used, which maintains a strong selection pressure in a temporal scale up to several months over very large experimental populations of microalgae. Microalgae are able to survive to petroleum contamination as a result of physiological acclimatization without genetic changes. However, when petroleum concentration exceeds the physiological limits, survival depends exclusively on the occurrence on mutations that confer resistance and subsequent selection of these mutants. Finally, it is certain that further mutations and selection will ultimately determine adaptation of microalgae to the environmental forcing. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Aquat Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy