Metabolic responses to environmental pollution, mainly related to Hg and PAHs, were investigated in mussels. Specimens of Mytilus galloprovincialis, sedentary filter-feeders, were caged in anthropogenic-impacted and reference sites along the Augusta coastline (Sicily, Italy). The gills, mainly involved in nutrient uptake, digestion and gas exchange, were selected as target organ being the first organ to be affected by pollutants. Severe alterations in gill tissue were observed in mussels from the industrial area compared with control, while gill metabolic profiles, obtained by (1)H NMR spectroscopy and analyzed by multivariate statistics, exhibited significant changes in amino acids, energy metabolites, osmolytes and neurotransmitters. Overall, the morphological changes and metabolic disturbance detected in gill tissues may suggest that the mussels transplanted to the contaminated field site were suffering from adverse environmental condition. The concurrent morphological and metabolomic investigations as applied here result effective in assessing the environmental influences on health status of aquatic organisms.
Keywords: (1)H NMR; Caged mussels; Environmental metabolomics; Environmental pollution; Gills; Mytilus galloprovincialis.
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