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Aquat Toxicol. 2011 Jul;104(1-2):126-34. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2011.03.018. Epub 2011 Apr 4.

Exposure to copper and a cytotoxic polyunsaturated aldehyde induces reproductive failure in the marine polychaete Nereis virens (Sars).

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School of Marine Science and Technology, Newcastle University, Ridley Building, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE17RU, England, UK.


A number of metabolites from microalgae, including polyunsaturated aldehydes (PUAs), have been implicated as inducers of reproductive failure in aquatic invertebrates. Current work describes the impacts of the model PUA 2E, 4E-decadienal and copper sulphate applied in isolation and combination on the reproductive performance of the infaunal polychaete, Nereis virens (Sars). The reproductive and life cycle parameters investigated were; fertilisation success, larval survival, sperm motility (percent motility and curvilinear velocity) and sperm DNA damage. Exposure to decadienal and copper sulphate in isolation resulted in dose- and time-dependent reductions for each evaluated endpoint. Fertilisation success was heavily impacted at concentrations of up to 10μM for both compounds. Copper sulphate was more toxic in larval survival assays. Sperm motility impacts, although variable, exhibited rapid onset with pronounced reductions in sperm swimming performance observed within 3min of exposure. The extent of DNA damage was dose-dependent, and in the case of decadienal, rapid in onset. Dual compound exposures resulted in enhanced overall toxicity in all assays. Logistic regression analysis of fertilisation and larval survival assays showed significant synergistic interactions between decadienal and copper sulphate; an increase in concentration of either compound resulted in enhanced toxicity of the other. Longer exposure durations during larval survival assays demonstrated a further increase in both toxicity and synergism. The results indicate that the effects of additional environmental stressors must be considered when attempting to extrapolate laboratory-derived single compound exposures to field situations.

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