Natural organic matter (NOM) induces oxidative stress in freshwater amphipods Gammarus lacustris Sars and Gammarus tigrinus (Sexton).
Humic substances comprise the majority of natural organic matter (NOM) on Earth, including dissolved organic matter in freshwater systems. Recent studies show that these substances directly interact with aquatic organisms as chemical stressors. The aim of the present study was to investigate the mode of action of dissolved NOM on the freshwater amphipods Gammarus lacustris Sars and Gammarus tigrinus (Sexton), and in particular, to determine if NOM induces or promotes internal oxidative stress. NOM was isolated by reverse osmosis from a brown-water lake in Brandenburg State, Germany. Oxidative stress markers, such as lipid peroxidation, cell internal hydrogen peroxide concentration, as well as peroxidase, catalase and glutathione S-transferase activities, were quantified. Exposure of both amphipod species to NOM caused a significant increase in lipid peroxidation, hydrogen peroxide concentration, catalase, peroxidase and glutathione S-transferase activities. Both species showed a two-stage antioxidant response: the first stage allowed the organisms to effectively eliminate ROS and to protect cells from damage, whereas the second stage leads to H2O2 accumulation in combination with destruction of lipid structures in the cells and, finally, functional damage or even death of the organism.