The toxicity of organotin compounds in the environment is closely related to their uptake by microorganisms and delivery through the food chain. The population at low trophic levels like microalgae plays an important role in this aspect. In this study, the toxic effects of triphenyltin (TPT) on Scenedesmus quadricauda were assessed at the population, cellular and subcellular levels. The alga was exposed to TPT of up to 64 μg l-1 (nearly lethal concentration), but the algal growth was inhibited significantly when TPT was elevated to 8 μg l-1. This growth inhibition was correlated to the presence of oxidative stress as evidenced by the accumulation of malondialdehyde (MDA) and confirmed by fluorescent probing of the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels. The imbalanced activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) may lead to an accumulation of intracellular H2O2, which can initiate an oxidative damage to cell components and cause growth inhibition and finally cell death. The detachment of plasma membrane from cell wall, the structural change of chloroplasts as well as the increased number and size of starch granules together with electron-dense deposits in chloroplasts were noticed through electron microscopic examination. It was suggested that mitochondria, chloroplasts and protoplasm might be the direct targets of TPT toxicity. This study confirmed that TPT poisoning on phytoplankton can happen at very low concentrations. There existed different defense mechanisms e.g., antioxidant enzyme activation, starch accumulation and possibly metal sequestration in algal species as the means to resist TPT toxicity.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Antioxidant enzymes
- Oxidative stress