Is ambient chitobiase activity a monitoring tool for impacts on secondary production in lotic systems?

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Chitobiase is one of two enzymes responsible for cleaving the chitin polymers that form arthropod exoskeletons and has been found to be predictive of secondary production for marine and freshwater zooplankton. Since chitobiase is released into water during molting by aquatic arthropods, it is possible that ambient chitobiase activity may be a useful proxy of secondary production in aquatic systems. In the present study, surface water samples from the upper Tennessee River basin, USA, were collected and analyzed for chitobiase to determine how enzyme levels vary with season, water depth, and proximity to sewage treatment outfalls. Additionally, chitobiase activity was correlated with three pharmaceutical compounds to assess if changes in chitobiase activity were associated with contaminants derived from sewage treatment plants. Chitobiase activity was significantly (p< 0.05) elevated in the fall relative to other seasons. Further, chitobiase activity displayed significant positive correlation (p< 0.05) between surface and subsurface samples and was negatively correlated (p< 0.05) with pharmaceutical concentrations in summer samples. These results indicate the potential for chitobiase as an assessment tool in estimating secondary production and as an ecotoxicological indictor.

La chitobiase est l’une de deux enzymes responsables du fractionnement des polymères de chitine qui composent l’exosquelette des arthropodes; on a montré qu’elle pouvait être une variable prédictive de la production secondaire chez le zooplancton marin et d’eau douce. Puisque la chitobiase est libérée dans l’eau lors de la mue des arthropodes aquatiques, il se peut que l’activité ambiante de la chitiobiase serve de variable de substitution utile de la production secondaire dans les écosystèmes aquatiques. Dans notre étude, nous avons prélevé des échantillons d’eau de surface dans le bassin supérieur de la rivière Tennessee, É.-U., et nous y avons dosé la chitobiase afin de déterminer la variation des concentrations d’enzyme en fonction de la saison, de la profondeur de l’eau et de la proximité des déversoirs de stations d’épuration des eaux usées. De plus, nous avons examiné la corrélation entre la chitobiase et trois composés pharmaceutiques afin d’évaluer si les changements d’activité de la chitobiase sont associés à des contaminants dérivés des stations d’épuration des eaux usées. L’activité est significativement plus importante (p< 0,05) en automne qu’aux autres saisons. De plus, l’activité de la chitobiase montre une corrélation positive significative (p< 0,05) entre les échantillons prélevés en surface et ceux pris sous la surface et une corrélation négative (p< 0,05) avec les concentrations de produits pharmaceutiques dans les échantillons d’été. Ces résultats confirment l’intérêt potentiel de l’utilisation de la chitobiase pour estimer la production secondaire et servir d’indicateur écotoxicologique.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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