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Biomarker responses of mussels exposed to earthquake disturbances

Author(s): Chandurvelan R, Marsden ID, Glover CN, Gaw S

Abstract

The green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus is recognised as a bioindicator of coastal contamination in New Zealand (NZ). Mussels (shell length 60–80 mm) were collected from three intertidal areas of Canterbury in the South Island of NZ prior to extreme earthquake disturbances on 22nd February 2011, and 9 months later in October 2011. Trace elements, including arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn), were measured in the gills, digestive gland, foot and mantle. Metal levels in tissues were site specific, and mostly unaffected by earthquake disturbances. Physiological biomarkers were negatively affected by earthquake disturbances and mussels from the Port of Lyttelton had higher negative scope for growth post-earthquake. Metallothionein-like protein in the digestive gland correlated with metal content of tissues, as did catalase activity in the gill and lipid peroxidation values for the digestive gland. This research demonstrates that physiological and other biomarkers are effective at detecting the effects of multiple stressors following seismic disturbances.

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