The toxicity of pyrene and phenanthrene to phytoplankton was studied by analyzing the effect on the growth, abundance and cell viability of cultured species and natural communities of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. A decrease in cell abundance, and growth rate was observed as concentration of PAHs increased, with catastrophic cell mortality induced at the highest PAH concentration tested. A strong positive linear relationship was observed between the LC50 (the PAH concentration at which cell population will decline by a half), and the species cell volume, for both phenanthrene and pyrene. Natural communities were however significantly more sensitive to PAHs than cultured phytoplankton, as indicated by the lower slope (e.g. 0.23 and 0.65, respectively, for pyrene) of the relationship LC50 vs. cell volume. The results highlight the importance of cell size in determining the phytoplankton sensitivity to PAHs identifying the communities from the oligotrophic ocean to be more vulnerable.
- Cell size
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis