Bioaccumulation risk: a new study

Bioaccumulation risk: a new study examining the effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on bay scallops

Photo: Scientists explained the toxic effects of a common water pollutant, PAH Benzo[α]Pyrenean (BaP) on bay scallop
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Credit: National Korea Maritime & Ocean University

The rapid industrialization of coastal areas and increased marine transport continue to release pollutants into marine ecosystems. These pollutants pose a serious threat to marine life and habitats. For example, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, a common marine pollutant) disrupt a variety of biological systems in marine organisms, including energy metabolism, growth, genes, and reproduction. Exposure to these compounds causes poisoning not only in marine organisms, but also in humans who consume these organisms. Although the immunotoxicity of PAHs has been extensively studied in mammals and fish, their effect on shellfish has not been sufficiently investigated.

To fill this knowledge gap, a group of researchers from South Korea, including Professor Cheol Young Choi of Korea Maritime and Ocean University, evaluated the toxic effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on bay scallops. They selected PAH – BaP – a known carcinogen.

BaP effect on scallopsProfessor Choi says:It was investigated by observing various immunological and oxidative stress-related factors.“in The research, made available online on April 27, 2022, and later published in Volume 124 of Fish and shellfish immunity May 2022In this study, the researchers explained how they exposed scallops to seawater containing four different concentrations of BaP (0.5, 1.0, 10, and 50 mcg/L) for 72 hours, and then measured five different parameters in these scallops: levels of nitric oxide (NO) In their hemolymph, mRNA expression of peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRP), fibrinogen domain-containing protein (FReDC1), metallothionein (MT), and heat shock protein (HSP) 70. While NO levels and expression of PGRP, FReDC1, and HSP70 Indicates the scallop’s immune response to BaP toxicity, and MT expression is seen as a stress response in these organisms.

The study found that with the exception of the 0.5 μg/L BaP group, NO, FReDC1 and MT mRNA expression increased significantly with time in each BaP group. Expression of PGRP and HSP70 mRNA increased in the 50 μg/L BaP group for 6-24 h before declining. Moreover, at 72 h, the 50 μg/L BaP group had greater MT mRNA expression than the control group. “In conclusion, all parameters increased significantly over time at higher BaP concentrations,” says Professor Choi.

Researchers also used On site Hybridization, a proprietary technique, to confirm the site of MT expression in the cytoplasm of specific cells in these scallops—confirming that these organisms do indeed overexpress MT in the presence of PAHs.

From these observations, the researchers concluded that BaP suppresses the scallop’s immune response and reduces its ability to respond to oxidative stress, infection, inflammation and tissue damage.

But what is the significance of this study in the practical world? Professor Choi says, “This study paves the way for the development of new techniques to control the release of BaP in water bodies and its transfer to humans through the food chain. “




Authors: Jin Ah SongaKang Hee KhooBYoung Soo Parkcand Cheol Young ChoiDrAffiliations:


a: Marine Bioresources Research Unit, Korea Institute of Oceanography and Technology, South Korea

B: Department of Fisheries Science, Chonnam National University, South Korea

c: Pusan ​​Catholic University, South Korea

Dr: Department of Marine Biological Sciences, Korea Marine and Ocean University, South Korea

About the Korea National Maritime and Ocean University

The Korea National Maritime and Ocean University, South Korea’s most famous university for marine studies and transportation sciences and engineering, is located on an island in Busan. The university was founded in 1945 and has since merged with other universities to become currently the only post-secondary institution specializing in marine science and engineering. It has four colleges that offer undergraduate and graduate courses.


About the author

Chul Young-choi is a professor in the Department of Marine Biological Sciences at Korea Marine and Ocean University. His group is currently working on the endocrine-regulatory mechanisms of Cleanershrimp using wavelength of LED light, the endocrine-regulatory mechanisms of the gonadotropin-inhibiting hormone Cinnamon, and the development of biomarkers for marine environmental risk assessment using expression analysis of genes related to oxidative stress. He completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Calgary and the National Institutes of Health before joining Korea Marine and Ocean University (NIH). Dr. Choi holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science and Technology from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

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