The present study investigated the effects of lead (Pb) and ascorbic acid (AA) on Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus using the micronucleus (MN) and nuclear abnormality (NA) tests for periods of 7, 14 and 21 days. The MN frequencies in the erythrocytes, gill, liver and fin cells were analysed comparatively to evaluate the sensitivity and suitability of these different cell types. The NA shapes in erythrocytes were scored into blebbed nuclei (BL), lobed nuclei (LB), notched nuclei (NT) and binuclei (BN). It was observed that fish showed significant sensitivity to the different treatments. In general, the highest value of both MN and NA cells were significantly increased in the Pb-treated group followed by the combination of the Pb and AA-treated group. On the other hand, the MN and NA frequencies in erythrocytes were the most sensitive to the treatment and could provide more valuable information than those in gill, liver and fin cells. The frequencies of each NA shape in erythrocytes of all treatments were observed in the following ranked order NT > LB > BN > BL. The results demonstrated the efficacy of AA in reducing genotoxicity in fish induced by Pb. They showed the sensitivity and suitability of MN and NA frequencies in erythrocytes as pollution biomarkers.
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