An integrated use of multiple biomarkers to investigate the individual and combined effect of copper and cadmium on the marine green mussel (Perna viridis)

The present study documents individual and combined sub-lethal effect of one redox active (copper) and one non-redox active (cadmium) metal on green mussel (Perna viridis). The mussels were exposed to 60 μg L−1 of Cu and 150 μg L−1 of Cd (individually and in combination) for 21 days. Histopathological and ultrastructural studies revealed significant metal induced alterations such as vacuolization, fusion of gill lamellae, enhance mucous deposition, hyperplasia and necrosis in gills. Antioxidant enzyme assays revealed significant increase in superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity. Similarly, single exposure to Cd and Cu caused significant induction in Malate dehydrogenase (MDH) activity. However, combined Cu+Cd exposure modulated suppression in MDH activity. Unlike MDH, Cu and Cd individual exposure resulted in a decrease in esterase (EST) activity, but their combined exposure caused an induction. Non-enzymatic biomarkers such as lipid peroxidation (LPO) and metallothionein (MT) levels showed no significant change in response to Cu exposure, whereas, individual Cd exposure or Cd exposure in combination with Cu caused significant changes in their levels. Comet assay revealed a significant increase in DNA damage upon metal exposure. These results indicate that Cu (redox active) and Cd (non-redox active) can induce measurable physiological, biochemical as well as genotoxic perturbations in mussels even at sub-lethal concentrations. A monitoring programme based on the biomarkers discussed here would be useful to study the effect of metal pollutants reaching the coastal waters.



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