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Ecotoxicological assessment of contaminated sediments under future scenarios of acidification and warming of the marine envinronment


Marine ecosystems have been experiencing major environmental changes in the Anthropocene. Among other changes, the rise in the sea temperature and marine acidification has aroused concern and moved efforts to understand its effects on biota. In addition to these environmental changes, marine ecosystems still suffer from effects of other stressors, including chemical contamination. The effects of these three stressors acting synergistically on the marine biota is still only hypothesized, and therefore the objective of the present proposal is to evaluate responses in tropical marine and estuarine organisms to chemical contamination in the sediment and a scenario of warming and acidification induced by increased CO2 concentration in the marine environment expected for the year 2100. The biological and ecological analyses will address different levels of biological complexity (biochemical, cellular, individual, population and communities). The working hypothesis is that the increase in temperature and acidification of coastal waters will modify the toxicity of metal mixtures as well as a mixture of PAHs due to changes in both the physiology of the organisms and the physical and chemical interactions of these contaminants that will affect their bioavailability. The test organisms will be exposed to laboratory-spiked sediments with a mixture of metals (Cu, Pb, Zn and Hg) or HPAs (Benzo [a] Pyrene and Acenaftene) and their respective negative controls, in two temperatures (26 °C and 28 °C) and two pH levels (8.1 and 7.6). Acidification will be performed through the controlled injection of pure gaseous CO2 into the experimental medium. The biological responses evaluated will be at different levels of biological organization: (i) sub-individual level, using Mytella charruana (activity of CYP450, GST, GPx, AChE, and GSH, LPO and DNA damage); (ii) individual/population level using Echinometra lucunter (evaluation of embryo-larval development); and (iii) community level (assessment of the structure of benthic meiofauna communities). There is an expectation in society that the scientific community will be able to provide knowledge on how to deal with the major contemporary environmental issues. Considering the likely future scenarios of warming and acidification of the marine environment and the widely known scenario of chemical contamination of marine sediments to which coastal zones are subject, it is imperative that environmental risk information be revealed in scenarios of multiple stressors involving contamination, warming and acidification of the marine environment. (AU)

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