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An integrated approach to characterize deep sediment toxicity in Genoa submarine canyons (NW Mediterranean)

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to evaluate deep sediment toxicity in Genoa submarine canyons (Northwestern Mediterranean), for the first time, by using an integrated approach that combined chemistry and ecotoxicology. Sediments were collected from the main submarine canyons in the Gulf of Genoa (Polcevera and Bisagno) and along the adjacent Western Open Slope. A multi-endpoint ecotoxicological approach was taken by exposing two crustacean larvae (Amphibalanus amphitrite and Artemia sp.). Lethal and sub-lethal responses (mortality, swimming behavior) were investigated. Chemical analysis showed that this area is characterized by metal enrichment, including lead, cadmium, chromium, and nickel. Ecotoxicological tests highlighted that elutriates from the different submarine canyons were toxic only for A. amphitrite nauplii: Polcevera Canyon and Western Open Slope sediments induced stronger lethal and sub-lethal ecotoxicological effects than those from Bisagno Canyon. No direct correlation was found between the outcome of chemical and ecotoxicological characterization. However, barnacle was the most prone species to metal contamination: lethal and sub-lethal responses found in this species may be linked to an increase in the concentration of some metals (i.e., Cr, Ni) from offshore to coastal waters, probably due to anthropogenic activity. These findings suggest that the proposed approach can be a suitable tool for deep-sea sediment contamination monitoring; however, the use of a battery of bioassays involving multiple species and endpoints is recommended to better clarify the dynamics of contaminants in marine sediments at very high depths.

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All the data produced in this study are presented in the manuscript.

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Acknowledgements

This work was carried out in the framework of the Italian Flagship project “RITMARE - La Ricerca Italiana per il Mare” (coordinated by the National Research Council and funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research). The authors would like to acknowledge the crew and the captain of the R/V Minerva Uno. All authors thank Dr. Enza Quinci (CNR-IAS) for her valuable support in the statistical analysis.

Funding

This work was supported and was carried out in the framework of the Italian Flagship project “RITMARE - La Ricerca Italiana per il Mare” (coordinated by the National Research Council and funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research).

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All authors materially participated in the research and/or article preparation and editing. CG, FG and MF: conceptualization and design of the study. CG, OL: ecotoxicological bioassays. ACH: participation in oceanographic cruise and sample collection. MDC, AM: chemical analyses. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version

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Correspondence to Chiara Gambardella.

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Gambardella, C., Leggio, O., Montarsolo, A. et al. An integrated approach to characterize deep sediment toxicity in Genoa submarine canyons (NW Mediterranean). Environ Sci Pollut Res 29, 2883–2893 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-15807-0

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