The use of selected genotoxicity assays in green-lipped mussels (Perna viridis) : A validation study in Hong Kong coastal waters

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Stanley Y.M. Siu
  • Paul K.S. Lam
  • Michael Martin
  • Christopher W. Caldwell
  • Bruce J. Richardson


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-492
Journal / PublicationMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number6-12
Publication statusPublished - 2008


In Hong Kong, discharges of domestic and industrial wastewaters and disposal of contaminated muds into coastal waters have resulted in high levels of persistent organic contaminants in the water column, biota and bottom sediments. Although the acute toxicity of effluents has been tested by government regulators using mortality-based bioassays, the sublethal effects of many of the pollutants, including environmental carcinogens, have not been well studied. The objective of the present work was to examine the efficiency and efficacy of using: (1) DNA strand breaks (comet assay and alkaline agarose gel electrophoresis assay); (2) oxidative DNA damage (levels of 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine in cellular DNA) and (3) micronuclei (MN) formation as early warning toxicological indicators of potential environmental carcinogen exposure. Green-lipped mussels (Perna viridis) were transplanted to study sites and retrieved after 4, 8, 12, 16 and 30 days. The bioaccumulation of organic pollutants, including the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), organochlorine pesticides (OC pesticides) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was observed, and compared with biomarker assays. Some significant dose- and time-dependent inductions of the genotoxic biomarkers, including 8-OHdG, DNA strand breaks and micronuclei were observed. In particular, several very strong (r > 0.9) and significantly positive relationships were found at all sites during days 0-12. In addition, significant strong relationships between certain organic contaminants (carcinogenic PAHs and 4 common OC pesticides) and micronuclei were detected at the polluted sites, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sai Wan Ho. The results suggest that the use of micronuclei as a biomarker is potentially effective, especially at the more polluted sites. Nonetheless, further research is required to validate their effectiveness under varying field conditions, especially to elucidate responses under lower contaminant loads, interactions between the environmental and physiological factors affecting organisms in differing coastal environments, and changes in biotransformation and DNA repair enzymes in test organisms. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), Alkaline agarose gel electrophoresis, Comet assay, DNA strand breakage, Dose-response relationships, Genotoxicity assays, Micronucleus (MN) assay, Organochlorine pesticides, PAHs, PCBs

Citation Format(s)

The use of selected genotoxicity assays in green-lipped mussels (Perna viridis): A validation study in Hong Kong coastal waters. / Siu, Stanley Y.M.; Lam, Paul K.S.; Martin, Michael et al.
In: Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 57, No. 6-12, 2008, p. 479-492.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review