Lionfish (Pterois volitans) as biomonitoring species for oil pollution effects in coral reef ecosystems
Marine Environmental Research
With oil spills, and other sources of aromatic hydrocarbons, being a continuous threat to coral reef systems, and most reef fish species being protected or difficult to collect, the use of the invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) might be a good model species to monitor biomarkers in potentially exposed fish in the Caribbean and western Atlantic. The rapid expansion of lionfish in the Caribbean and western Atlantic, and the unregulated fishing for this species, would make the lionfish a suitable candidate as biomonitoring species for oil pollution effects. However, to date little has been published about the responses of lionfish to environmental pollutants. For this study lionfish were collected in the Florida Keys a few weeks after Hurricane Irma, which sank numerous boats resulting in leaks of oil and fuel, and during the winter and early spring after that. Several biomarkers indicative of exposure to PAHs (bile fluorescence, cytochrome P450-1A induction, glutathione S-transferase activity) were measured. To establish if these biomarkers are inducible in PAH exposed lionfish, dosing experiments with different concentrations of High Energy Water Accommodated Fraction of crude oil were performed. The results revealed no significant effects in the biomarkers in the field collected fish, while the exposure experiments demonstrated that lionfish did show strong effects in the measured biomarkers, even at the lowest concentration tested (0.3% HEWAF, or 25 μg/l ƩPAH50). Based on its widespread distribution, relative ease of collection, and significant biomarker responses in the controlled dosing experiment, it is concluded that lionfish has good potential to be used as a standardized biomonitoring species for oil pollution in its neotropical realm.
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