Environmental Pollution by Hydrocarbons in Colombia and Its Impact on the Health of Aquatic Ecosystems

  • Yohana M. Velasco-SantamaríaEmail author
  • Wilson Corredor-Santamaría
  • Alexander Torres-Tabares


The extraction of oil plays an important role in the productive sector, contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Colombia, becoming in recent years a determining activity for the economic balance and development of the country. However, the environmental impact due to the oil extraction and spill accidents has led to contamination of soil and water sources, mortality of fauna and flora, or changes in the dynamics of natural ecosystems, among others. Biomonitoring the impact of oil pollution using aquatic organisms, especially native bioindicators, has a high ecological relevance. At this regard, fish are considered as one of the main sentinel species for assessing the quality of aquatic ecosystems as they are ubiquitous in most aquatic environments exposed to pollutants and are ecologically relevant. Our data evidence a negative effect in fish from sites where wastewater is discharged from the oil industry with alterations on the hematological parameters, presence of genotoxicity, alteration in the antioxidant response, and presence of deleterious changes in the architecture of the tissues which could lead to a possible decrease in fish populations exposed to these conditions. On the other hand, green microalgae such as Chlorella vulgaris is highly sensitive to environmental changes and is also used as an important bioindicator. Different biomarkers such as growth, cell size, chlorophyll, and the enzymatic activity associated with oxidative stress have been used, which have demonstrated the impact of petroleum compounds. Both native fish and microalgae are good sentinels of freshwater potentially contaminated by hydrocarbons.



The authors are very grateful to the colleagues of the research group BioTox from the University of the Llanos, Villavicencio, Colombia for their support during the experimental work done during the studies, especially to Ivonne Calderón-Delgado and Diego Mora-Solarte.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yohana M. Velasco-Santamaría
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wilson Corredor-Santamaría
    • 1
  • Alexander Torres-Tabares
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de Investigación en Biotecnología y Toxicología Acuática y Ambiental – BioTox, Escuela de Ciencias Animales, Facultad de Ciencias Agropecuarias y Recursos Naturales, Universidad de los LlanosVillavicencio, MetaColombia

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