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Keywords:

  • Invertebrates;
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons;
  • Exposure routes;
  • Detoxification;
  • Metabolites

Abstract

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are widely distributed in the marine environment and have physicochemical properties that make them likely to bioaccumulate. The main purpose of this study was to investigate fluoranthene (FLU) uptake, biotransformation and elimination in the deposit-feeding polychaete Capitella sp. I exposed via different routes. Individual worms were exposed to either dissolved FLU or to both dissolved and sediment-bound FLU. The 14C-FLU was used as a tracer to determine the amounts of unmetabolized FLU (parent), water-soluble (aqueous)- and water-insoluble (polar) FLU metabolites and FLU residues (unextractable fraction) in sediment, water, and worm tissue. Capitella was capable of accumulating and biotransforming FLU regardless of route of exposure, thus suggesting that biotransformation activity is not restricted to gut tissues. Although both feeding and nonfeeding worms were able to biotransform FLU extensively, feeding worms eliminated/transformed parent FLU faster than both aqueous and polar FLU metabolites after transfer to clean conditions, whereas nonfeeding worms barely excreted FLU in any form. The high biotransformation capability of Capitella sp. I, along with the dependency of elimination on exposure route, demonstrates the potential importance of these processes in controlling the fate and effects of PAH and possibly other organic toxicants in contaminated marine sediments.