Cellular and Molecular Biology


Histological changes and Micronucleus induction in the Zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha after Paraquat exposure

P. Mantecca, G. Vailati and R. Bacchetta

Department of Biology, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

Offprint requests to: Renato Bacchetta, Dipartimento di Biologia, Università degli Studi di Milano, Sezione di Zoologia e Citologia, Via Celoria 26, 20133 Milano-Italy. e-mail: renato.bacchetta@unimi.it

Summary. The herbicide paraquat (PQ), still widely used in developing countries, represents a serious risk factor for human and environmental health. To test the sublethal effects of PQ on the freshwater bivalve Dreissena polymorpha, mussels were exposed to 0.125, 0.250, 0.500 mg/L for 7 and 14 days and histologically screened. PQ’s genotoxic potential was also determined in haemocytes by the micronucleus, MN, assay. At concentrations ≥ 0.250mg/L, severe lesions, such as cellular vacuolation, lysis and thinness of the germinative epithelia were observed in the digestive gland and testis. A positive trend between the number of granulocytes and all PQ concentrations was observed in both gonads and digestive glands, addressing the inflammatory capacity of this herbicide on these tissues. Mussels exposed to PQ also exhibited a significant MN induction. The spontaneous MN frequencies ranged from 2.75 to 4.25‰, while PQ-induced MN rates in treated mussels were between 3.50 and 12.50‰. The histopathological effects on the digestive and reproductive systems, as well as the MN induction in the haemocytes, confirmed the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of PQ also in D. polymorpha. Histol Histopathol 21, 829-840 (2006)

Key words: Dreissena polymorpha, Histopathology, Genotoxicity