Field biomonitoring using the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha and the quagga mussel Dreissena bugensis following immunotoxic reponses. Is there a need to separate the two species?
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha constitutes an extensively used sentinel species for biomonitoring in European and North American freshwater systems. However, this invasive species is gradually replaced in freshwater ecosystem by Dreissena bugensis, a closely related dreissenid species that shares common morphological characteristics but possess some physiological differences. However, few are known about differences on more integrated physiological processes that are generally used as biomarkers in biological monitoring studies. Declining of zebra mussel populations raises the question of the sustainability of using one or both species indifferently to maintain the quality of environmental pollution monitoring data. In our study, we performed a field comparative study measuring immune-related markers and bioaccumulation of PCBs, PAHs and PBDEs in sympatrically occurring mussel populations from three sites of the St. Lawrence River. For tested organisms, species were identified using RFLP analysis. Measurement of bioaccumulated organic compounds indicated a higher accumulation of PCBs and PBDEs in D. bugensis soft tissues compared to D. polymorpha while no differences were noticed for PAHs. Results of hemocytic parameters highlighted that differences of hemocyte distributions were associated to modulations of phagocytic activities. Moreover, marked differences occurred in measurement of hemocytic oxidative activity, indicating divergences between the two species for ROS regulation strategies. This physiological characteristic may deeply influence species responses facing environmental or pollution related stress and induce bias if the two species are not differentiated in further biomarker or bioaccumulation measurement-based studies.