Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 12, pp 9044–9056 | Cite as

Effect of water quality and confounding factors on digestive enzyme activities in Gammarus fossarum

  • L. CharronEmail author
  • O. Geffard
  • A. Chaumot
  • R. Coulaud
  • H. Queau
  • A. Geffard
  • O. Dedourge-Geffard
Research Article


The feeding activity and subsequent assimilation of the products resulting from food digestion allow organisms to obtain energy for growth, maintenance and reproduction. Among these biological parameters, we studied digestive enzymes (amylase, cellulase and trypsin) in Gammarus fossarum to assess the impact of contaminants on their access to energy resources. However, to enable objective assessment of a toxic effect of decreased water quality on an organisms’ digestive capacity, it is necessary to establish reference values based on its natural variability as a function of changing biotic and abiotic factors. To limit the confounding influence of biotic factors, a caging approach with calibrated male organisms from the same population was used. This study applied an in situ deployment at 23 sites of the Rhone basin rivers, complemented by a laboratory experiment assessing the influence of two abiotic factors (temperature and conductivity). The results showed a small effect of conductivity on cellulase activity and a significant effect of temperature on digestive enzyme activity but only at the lowest temperature (7 °C). The experimental conditions allowed us to define an environmental reference value for digestive enzyme activities to select sites where the quality of the water impacted the digestive capacity of the organisms. In addition to the feeding rate, this study showed the relevance of digestive enzymes as biomarkers to be used as an early warning tool to reflect organisms’ health and the chemical quality of aquatic ecosystems.


Biomarkers Invertebrate Caging Amylase Cellulase Trypsin Temperature Conductivity 



Inhibition rate of digestive enzyme activity



This research program was financially supported by the ANR CESA program GAMMA 021 02 “Variability–adaptation–diversity and ecotoxicology in gammarids” (2012–2015), and the PIREN-Seine Program. The authors sincerely thank the Elsevier site for the English revision.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Charron
    • 1
    Email author
  • O. Geffard
    • 2
  • A. Chaumot
    • 2
  • R. Coulaud
    • 2
  • H. Queau
    • 2
  • A. Geffard
    • 1
  • O. Dedourge-Geffard
    • 1
  1. 1.Université Reims Champagne Ardenne, EA 4689, Unité Interactions Animal-Environnement (EA 4689)UFR Sciences Exactes et NaturellesReims Cedex 2France
  2. 2.Irstea, Lyon, Laboratoire d’écotoxicologieUnité de Recherche Milieux Aquatiques, Ecologie et Pollutions (MAEP)Villeurbanne CedexFrance

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