Evaluation of the water quality of the upper reaches of the main Southern Brazil river (Iguaçu river) through in situ exposure of the native siluriform Rhamdia quelen in cages

Environ Pollut. 2017 Dec;231(Pt 2):1245-1255. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.08.071. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Increase in industrial growth, urban and agricultural pollution, with consequent impacts on aquatic ecosystems are a major focus of research worldwide. Still, not many studies assess the impacts of contamination through in situ studies, using native species, also considering the influence of seasonality on their responses. This study aimed to evaluate the water quality of the basin of the Upper Iguaçu River, the main source of water supply to Curitiba, a major capital of Southern Brazil, and its Metropolitan area. Several biomarkers were evaluated after in situ exposure of the native catfish Rhamdia quelen inside cages for 7 days. Ten study sites were chosen along the basin, based on a diffuse gradient of contamination, corresponding to regions upstream, downstream, and within "great Curitiba". In each site, fish were exposed in Summer and Winter. The complex mixture of contaminants of this hydrographic basin generated mortality, and ion-, osmoregulatory and respiratory disturbances in the catfish as, for example, reduction of plasma osmolality and ionic concentrations, increased hematocrit levels and gill water content, altered branchial and renal activities of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, as well as raised levels of plasma cortisol and glucose. Biomarkers were mostly altered in fish exposed in Great Curitiba and immediately downstream. There was a notable influence of season on the responses of the jundiá. A multivariate redundancy analysis revealed that the best environmental variables explained 30% of the variation in biomarkers after controlling for spatial autocorrelation. Thus, this approach and the chosen parameters can be satisfactorily used to evaluate contamination environments with complex mixtures of contaminants, in other urban basins as well.

Keywords: Cage exposure; Environmental quality assessment; Lipid peroxidation; Physiological biomarkers; Seasonality.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Catfishes / physiology*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Gills / chemistry
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Seasons
  • Water / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Quality
  • Water Supply


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water