Effects of diluted bitumen exposure and recovery on the seawater acclimation response of Atlantic salmon smolts.


Petrogenic chemicals are common and widespread contaminants in the aquatic environment. In Canada, increased extraction of bitumen from the oil sands and transport of the major crude oil export product, diluted bitumen (dilbit), amplifies the risk of a spill and contamination of Canadian waterways. Fish exposed to sublethal concentrations of crude oil can experience a variety of adverse physiological effects including osmoregulatory dysfunction. As regulation of water and ion balance is crucial during the seawater transition of anadromous fish, the hypothesis that dilbit impairs seawater acclimation in Atlantic salmon smolts (a fish at risk of exposure in Canada) was tested. Smolts were exposed for 24 d to the water-soluble fraction of dilbit in freshwater, and then transferred directly to seawater or allowed a 1 wk depuration period in uncontaminated freshwater prior to seawater transfer. The seawater acclimation response was quantified at 1 and 7 d post-transfer using established hematological, tissue, and molecular endpoints including gill Na+/K+-ATPase gene expression (nka). All smolts, irrespective of dilbit exposure, increased serum Na+Ā concentrations and osmolality within 1 d of seawater transfer. The recovery of these parameters to freshwater values by 7 d post-transfer was likely driven by the increased expression and activity of Na+/K+-ATPase in the gill. Histopathological changes in the gill were not observed; however, CYP1A-like immunoreactivity was detected in the pillar cells of gill lamellae of fish exposed to 67.9 ?g/L PAC. Concentration-specific changes in kidney expression of a transmembrane water channel, aquaporin 3, occurred during seawater acclimation, but were resolved with 1 wk of depuration and were not associated with histopathological changes. In conclusion, apart from a robust CYP response in the gill, dilbit exposure did not greatly impact common measures of seawater acclimation, suggesting that significant osmoregulatory dysfunction is unlikely to occur if Atlantic salmon smolts are exposed sub-chronically to dilbit.

Authors: Alderman SL, Dillkimar CM, Avey SR, Farrell Ap, Kennedy CJ, Gillis TE
; Full Source: Aquatic Toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2020 Apr;221:105419. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2020.105419. Epub 2020 Jan 20.