Seasonal variations of a battery of biomarkers and physiological indices for the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis transplanted into the northwest Mediterranean Sea

Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2004 Aug;138(4):411-27. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2004.04.009.


Seasonal variations of six mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) biomarkers at two sites in the Mediterranean Sea were compared with physiological indices (condition, growth and gonad maturation), environmental parameters (temperature, salinity and turbidity), and chemical contamination levels. The basal levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), DNA adducts, benzo[a]pyrene hydroxylase (BPH), heat-shock proteins (HSP70), metallothioneins (MT) and P-glycoprotein (P-gp)-mediated multixenobiotic resistance (MXR) were estimated as early warning signals in caged mussels sampled at Carteau (native site) and La Fourcade (transplantation site) over a 2-year period. The Carteau and La Fourcade mussels have specific chemical contamination profiles but a similar range of values. For example, both are highly contaminated by heavy metals (201 and 258.4 mg kg(-1) dw, respectively) and considered as moderately impacted for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). However, contamination levels at Carteau are twice as high for PAHs (101.5 mg g(-1) dw) and PCBs (90.2 mg g(-1) dw) than La Fourcade. The seasonal contamination trend at Carteau showed six-fold higher levels of pyrolytic pollutants in winter. Although few tissue lesions were detected in individuals studied at either site, greater parasitic infestation was observed at Carteau. The results of findings from the two Mediterranean pilot studies support the adaptability of transplanted mussels to be used as biomarkers and to establish physiological endpoints for chemical contaminant exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Bivalvia / chemistry
  • Bivalvia / drug effects*
  • Bivalvia / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Seasons*
  • Shellfish*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Xenobiotics / analysis
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity


  • Biomarkers
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Xenobiotics