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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Mouthpart deformities and nucleolus activity in field-collected Chironomus riparius larvae

G.a Meregalli, R.b Bettinetti, L.a Pluymers, A.C.c Vermeulen, B.b Rossaro and F.a Ollevier (2002)

Mouthpart deformities and nucleolus activity in field-collected Chironomus riparius larvae

Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 42(4):405-409.

Chironomid mouthpart deformities and aberrations of their polytenic chromosomes are sublethal responses to toxic stress. These endpoints have been used in several cases as bioindications for sediment pollution. In the present study we aimed to establish whether there was an association between mouthpart deformities and nucleolus activity in the polytenic chromosomes. Such information could be useful to gain insight into the mechanisms involved in the occurrence of mouthpart deformities and their consequences on the larvae. Third-instar larvae of Chironomus riparius were collected at a site downstream of a sewage treatment plant mostly contaminated by pesticides. Larvae were then raised in the laboratory in aquaria containing sediment and water from the study location. During a 16-day period, larvae ready to molt to the fourth instar were reared individually. Within a few hours of their molt, the larvae were preserved. The presence of mouthpart deformities (menturn, mandibles, and pecten epipharyngis) and the percentage of active nucleoli were assessed. Those larvae presenting menturn deformities had a significantly higher incidence of active nucleoli in their polytenic chromosomes than nondeformed larvae. Because a high number of active nucleoli generally indicates increased rRNA synthesis, deformed larvae seemed to exhibit a higher protein synthesis than normal individuals. The synthesis of additional proteins may increase deformed larva tolerance to toxicants.

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