Reference : Coastal pollution of the Mediterranean and extension of its biomonitoring to trace eleme...
Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
Coastal pollution of the Mediterranean and extension of its biomonitoring to trace elements of emerging concern
[fr] Pollution côtière de la Méditerranée et extension de son biomonitoring aux éléments traces de considération environnementale nouvelle
Richir, Jonathan mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département de Biologie, Ecologie et Evolution > Océanologie >]
ULg, ​Liège, ​​Belgique
Docteur en Sciences
Bouquegneau, Jean-Marie mailto
Gobert, Sylvie mailto
Beckers, Jean-Marie mailto
Das, Krishna mailto
Thomé, Jean-Pierre mailto
Sylvestre, Frédéric
Pergent, Gerard
[en] Trace elements ; Biomonitoring ; Posidonia oceanica ; Mytilus galloprovincialis ; Mediterranean
[en] The Mediterranean Sea, a semi-enclosed sea with densely populated coasts, is submitted to numerous anthropogenic pressures: among them, the chemical pollution by traces elements. These pollutants, coming from our continental activities, are transported through rivers or by air and accumulate in seas and oceans where they mainly affect coastal areas. During the 70ies, scientists suggested to use organisms, in particular mussels of the genus Mytilus, in order to evaluate the status of chemical contamination of coastal ecosystems. Biomonitoring was born. Since, many monitoring studies were published using various animal and vegetal species.
Two of the most studied bioindicators species in the Mediterranean are the marine magnoliophyte Posidonia oceanica and the Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Monitoring studies with these two species have mainly focussed on contaminations by Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb (Mytilus galloprovincialis and Posidonia oceanica), Fe (Posidonia oceanica), As, V and Ag (Mytilus galloprovincialis). However, other trace elements like Be, Al, Mn, Co, Se, Mo, Sn, Sb and Bi have been subject to nearly no ecotoxicological survey. Furthermore the worldwide evolution of our technologies and of our lifestyle increases the extraction and production of trace elements (notably to answer needs of developing countries). The biomonitoring of the pollution by trace elements is henceforth a topical subject.
The overall objective of this work was therefore to evaluate the potential use of Mytilus galloprovincialis and Posidonia oceanica as bioindicators to monitor the Mediterranean coastal pollution by Be, Al, Mn, Co, Se, Mo, Sn, Sb, Bi, Fe, As, V, and Ag. These trace elements, mostly little studied, can be categorized as elements of “environmental emerging concern”. A time-integrated efficient monitoring of trace elements requires the continuous survey of their environmental levels; we therefore also measured levels of trace elements classically monitored with these two species.
Mytilus galloprovincialis and Posidonia oceanica complement each other in monitoring surveys. Both species accumulate pollutants dissolved in the water column. Posidonia oceanica, rooted in the seafloor, accumulates moreover pollutants stored in sediments in the long term. Mytilus galloprovincialis, as a filter feeder, further accumulate particulate pollutants suspended in the water column. The combined use of both bioindicators therefore provides a global view of the health status of the coastal environment (water, sediments, suspended matter).
Our first goal was to measure, at the scale of the French Mediterranean littoral, the spatial variability of trace element contents in Posidonia oceanica, and to determine if trace elements of environmental emerging concern threaten the chemical integrity of coastal ecosystems. We observed that the large majority of trace elements little or no monitored with Posidonia oceanica showed an equivalent to higher spatial variability than elements classically monitored with that species. We also showed that the spatial variability could be associated to specific anthropic activities like agriculture (Mo), mining (Sb), storage and refinement of oil products (V), or the presence of harbours and major urban centres (Sn, Bi). Their monitoring, along with the one of trace elements classically studied in the Mediterranean, turns out to be essential. In addition, the in-depth study of the contamination state of the Calvi Bay (Northwestern coast of Corsica, France), enabled us to define (or re-define) this site as a reference site for the monitoring of the chemical pollution by trace elements in the Northwestern Mediterranean.
We further studied the physiological mechanisms of accumulation, storage and excretion of trace elements by Posidonia oceanica. In situ contamination of seagrass bed portions allowed us to model the rapid kinetics of accumulation of contaminants by Posidonia oceanica shoots. Compartments of the plant answered differently to pollutant exposures. So, adult and senescent leaves assimilated pollutants less rapidly than young actively growing leaves. Trace elements, once accumulated, could be redistributed between the plant compartments, notably towards the rhizomes-roots systems buried in sediments. Our results experimentally showed that these below-ground organs could therefore play the role of biological archives for many elements. At the end of periods of exposure to pollutants, kinetics of decontaminations of Posidonia oceanica shoots were relatively fast and depended notably on the duration of the exposure to trace elements, on their toxic or essential character and on the studied compartment. We concluded that Posidonia oceanica was a sensitive bioindicator for the monitoring of the past and present coastal pollution by trace elements.
We showed that Mytilus galloprovincialis efficiently accumulated trace elements of environmental emerging concern as well as elements classically studied with this bioindicator species. The physiology of mussels further conditioned their answers to pollutant exposures. Their reproductive cycle dissolved trace element concentrations during the massive production of gametes and conducted to differences more or less important between individuals of both sexes. The conservative character of the distribution of trace elements between the different body compartments of Mytilus galloprovincialis suggested an important physiological regulation of their internal levels. Finally, the size of mussels used in this study, harvested from an aquaculture farm, did not noticeably influence inter-individual concentrations, all mussels of a same rope having approximately the same age.
In conclusion, this study enabled to improve and enlarge our state of knowledge about the monitoring of the pollution of the Mediterranean coastal environment by trace elements. In particular, both Mytilus galloprovincialis and Posidonia oceanica showed to be good candidates for the monitoring of trace elements of environmental emerging concern.
Laboratoire d'Océanologie
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students

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