Aryl hydrocarbon bioaccessibility to small mammals from arctic plants using in vitro techniques

Authors

  • Sarah A. Armstrong,

    1. Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 1H3, Canada
    2. Toxicology Graduate Program, University of Saskatchewan, 44 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B3, Canada
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  • Tom Van de Wiele,

    1. Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET), Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
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  • James J. Germida,

    1. Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 1H3, Canada
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  • Steven D. Siciliano

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 1H3, Canada
    • Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 1H3, Canada
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Abstract

Through their diet, herbivores inhabiting contaminated sites may be chronically exposed to a variety of aryl hydrocarbons (e.g., dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs]). However, little is known about how differences in morphology and physiology among plant species alter the environmental accumulation of aryl hydrocarbons or their release and subsequent activity in the gastrointestinal tract of herbivores after ingestion. In the present study, the activity of aryl hydrocarbons during digestion was examined using six Arctic plant species growing in impacted and reference sites near Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada. The plant species studied were black spruce (Picea mariana), labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), bog birch (Betula glandulosa), green alder (Alnus crispa), water sedge (Carex aquatilis), and little-tree willow (Salix arbusculoides). Plants were digested using a simulator of the upper digestive tract, and aryl hydrocarbon release was evaluated using an aryl hydrocarbon-receptor assay. Bioaccessible aryl hydrocarbon activity varied among the plant species tested. The species with the greatest activity was green alder, and the species with the least activity was black spruce. Further investigation revealed that digested plant extracts may antagonize the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and prevent bioactivation of the aryl compound benzo[a]pyrene. Thus, PAH risk from the ingestion of vegetation varies among plant species and may depend on antagonists present in the vegetation.

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