DNA Damage and Developmental Defects After Exposure to UV and Heavy Metals in Sea Urchin Cells and Embryos Compared to Other Invertebrates

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The depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer and the resulting increase in hazardous ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation reaching the Earth are of major concern not only for terrestrial but also for aquatic organisms. UV-B is able to penetrate clear water to ecologically significant depths. This chapter deals with the effects of UV radiation on DNA integrity in marine benthic organisms, in particular sea urchins in comparison to other marine invertebrates (sponges and corals). These animals cannot escape the damaging effects of UV-B radiation and may be additionally exposed to pollution from natural or anthropogenic sources. Besides eggs and larvae that lack a protective epidermal layer and are particularly prone to the damaging effects of UV radiation, coelomocytes from the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus were used as a “cellular sensor” to analyse the effects on DNA caused by UV-B, heavy metals (cadmium), and their combined actions. From our data we conclude that sea urchin coelomocytes as well as cells from other marine invertebrates are useful bioindicators of UV-B and heavy metal stress, responding to these stressors with different extents of DNA damage.