Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Environmental Toxicology

Advisor

van den Hurk, Peter

Committee Member

Klaine , Stephen J

Committee Member

Haney , Dennis C

Abstract

The upstate and Piedmont region of South Carolina is a rapidly urbanizing area with a fast growing population. This increase in population and development has the potential to negatively impact the aquatic system due to increased pollution from runoff and effluents from industrial, manufacturing and wastewater treatment facilities. In 2009 the Saluda River, a major river in this area of the state, was ranked 6th of America's most endangered rivers by American Rivers. This ranking was largely due to high phosphorus levels in the river, though there are many sources of pollution that may be affecting the river ecosystem. The goal of this study was to use a biomarker suite to investigate health effects of fish from the Saluda River from a wide range of potential contaminant classes. During the summer months of 2010, 159 fish from the Centrarchidae family (sunfish - Lepomis species and largemouth bass - Micropterus salmoides) were collected from 13 sites along the Saluda River. The weight, length and sex of each fish were recorded and liver, gallbladder, gonad, blood and muscle samples were taken for analysis. An ethoxresosufin-O-deethylase assay was used to measure the induction of cytochrome P4501A enzymes in the liver, while a glutathione S-transferase assay was used to measure the activity of glutathione. Oxidative stress in liver tissue was measure with a thiobarbituric acid reactive substances assay. Exposure to pesticides and other neuro-toxic compounds was analyzed using an acetylcholinesterase inhibition assay in blood plasma. Bile samples were analyzed for the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons using a bile fluorescence assay. Exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds was measured using a competitive receptor binding assay to analyze the presence of estrogen like compounds in the bile, while plasma samples of male and juvenile fish were analyzed for vitellogenin levels. The concentrations of eleven common metals were analyzed in muscle tissues while the metal inducible metallothionein enzyme was measure in liver samples. Results indicate that fish from the Saluda are responding to contamination in a sight specific manner. Sampling sites in the lower portion of the Saluda watershed are less impacted by pollution than the upper and central sections. Biomarker responses can be explained by the presence of urban areas, point sources and land use.

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