, Volume 636, Issue 1, pp 295-305,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Effects of crude oil on survival, morphology, and anatomy of two aquatic macrophytes from the Amazon floodplains

Abstract

Aquatic herbaceous macrophytes grow in profusion in the Amazon fertile varzea floodplains. A large number of species occur but only a few are particularly abundant, supporting food chains, contributing substantially to carbon and nutrient cycles. Their growth and role in the ecosystem depend, among other, on its life cycles and habits, floating or semi-aquatic. Although in the last decades, petroliferous activity intensified in the Central Amazon region and so did oil spills, the effect of petroleum on the native aquatic plants is unknown. The present study was designed to test experimentally the survival and morpho-anatomical modifications of the free floating water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes and the semi-aquatic grass Echinochloa polystachya to 10 different concentrations of crude oil. Higher concentrations of crude oil caused the mortality in both species; however, lethal dose (LD50) values showed that E. polystachya was more sensitive than E. crassipes. Despite the higher tolerance of E. crassipes, the inhibition of root and leaf growth as well as anatomical modifications in leaves were registered in higher concentrations. Additionally, the oil caused a reduction in leaf numbers in both species. Although mortality of the floating species was lower, it may increases over time, since important alterations in morphology and anatomy occurred. These results show that oil spills in the Amazon varzea can cause severe alterations in the aquatic flora and in the floodplain dynamics.

Handling editor: S. M. Thomaz