Comparative study of the genotoxic response of freshwater mussels Unio tumidus and Unio pictorum to environmental stress
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Genotoxic response of freshwater mussels U. tumidus and U. pictorum to environmental stress was studied using comet assay on hemocytes and gill cells. The mussels were acclimated to controlled laboratory conditions for 10 days, and then exposed at 4 sites in the Sava and Danube rivers in the area of the city of Belgrade. Samples of each species were taken after 7, 14, and 30 days of exposure. The mussels sampled immediately after acclimation served as controls. Genotoxic response in both species was induced earlier at sites receiving untreated wastewaters from the city's main collectors (7 days), than at the site receiving only domestic wastewaters from small settlements located upstream from the city (30 days). There was a correlation between the comet tail intensity values in tissues of exposed mussels and the concentrations of zinc, copper, iron, and arsenic at the exposure sites. The genotoxic responses in both tissues of U. pictorum and in hemocytes of U. tumidus were similar, while U. tumidus gill cells failed to exhibit significant genotoxic response at two sites. These findings, together with higher mortality of U. tumidus at the most polluted sites, promote U. pictorum as a model for genotoxicity monitoring in freshwater environments.