Sublethal effects of oil-contaminated sediment to early life stages of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica
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Sublethal effects of oil-contaminated sediment to early life stages of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica

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  • Journal Title:
    Environmental Pollution
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    The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil drilling rig resulted in the release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This event coincided with the spawning season of the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. Although oil bound to sediments constitutes an important source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure to benthic organisms, toxicity of sediment-associated DWH oil has not been investigated in any bivalve species. Here, we evaluated the sublethal effects of acute exposure of gametes, embryos and veliger larvae of the Eastern oyster to different concentrations of unfiltered elutriates of sediment contaminated with DWH oil. Our results suggest that gametes, embryos and veliger larvae are harmed by exposure to unfiltered elutriates of contaminated sediment. Effective concentrations for fertilization inhibition were 40.6 μg tPAH50 L−1 and 173.2 μg tPAH50 L−1 for EC201h and EC501h values, respectively. Embryo exposure resulted in dose-dependent abnormalities (EC20 and EC50 values were 77.7 μg tPAH50 L−1 and 151 μg tPAH50 L−1, respectively) and reduction in shell growth (EC2024h value of 1180 μg tPAH50 L−1). Development and growth of veliger larvae were less sensitive to sediment-associated PAHs compared to embryos. Fertilization success and abnormality of larvae exposed as embryos were the most sensitive endpoints for assessing the toxicity of oil-contaminated sediment. Bulk of measured polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were sediment-bound and caused toxic effects at lower tPAH50 concentrations than high energy water accommodated fractions (HEWAF) preparations from the same DWH oil. This study suggests risk assessments would benefit from further study of suspended contaminated sediment.
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    Environmental Pollution, 243, 743-751
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