Main partitioning criteria for the characterization of the health status in the freshwater mussel Anodonta cygnea from spontaneously polluted area in Western Ukraine.
A battery of biochemical parameters was used to evaluate the response of mussels to a contaminated coastal environment. A multimarker approach was developed, establishing a scale for the classification of the water quality in European coastal sites (BIOMAR European programme). This study allows the evaluation of the temporal trends of this scale when applied to selected sites of European Mediterranean coast (BEEP Biological Effects of Environmental Pollution in Marine Coastal Ecosystems: European programme). Acetylcholinesterase activity (AChE) is highly sensitive to organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides and, to some extent, also to heavy metals. Catalase activity (CAT) and lipid oxidation (evaluated as malonedialdehyde) are markers of oxidative stress, glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity is related to conjugation of organic compounds and benzo(a)pyrene hydroxylase activity (BPH) is a marker of effect of certain planar organic compounds (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAHs). These parameters were measured either in gills (AChE, GST) or digestive gland (BPH, GST, CAT, MDA). For each biomarker, a discriminatory factor was calculated (maximum variation range/confidence interval) and a response index was allocated. For each site, a Multimarker Pollution Index (MPI) was calculated as the sum of the response index of each of the five more discriminating biomarkers. As the result of our calculation method, the quality of the coastal environment at each site can be classified according to a five levels scale. Samples collected for five cruises in May 2001, 2002, 2003, and September 2001 and 2002 showed MPI evolutions. The results show that water quality can be classified from class 1 (clean areas in some sites of France, Italy and Spain) to class 4 (high pollution in main harbours). Results of the use of the biomarker scale in WP3 (Work Package Concernant Biomonitoring Programmes in Mediterranean Sea) during the BEEP programme make a strong contribution to the establishment of standardized strategies and methods for internationally agreed protocols for biomarker-based monitoring programmes. In comparison with scale pollution methodology used in the BIOMAR programme, the main contribution of BEEP was (1) to select from discriminatory analysis the biomarkers to be included in calculation of scale pollution; (2) to improve the use of the biomarker index in order to identify the main contaminants by analysis of individual contributions to the MPI; and (3) to apply methodology for temporal trends at sampled sites.