The finding adds to mounting evidence that toxic sediments and seaweeds in Sydney Harbour are a deadly diet for many sea creatures.
The new findings, published in the journal, Science of the Total Environment, reveal genetic mutations among crustaceans (Melita plumulosa) in the Parramatta River but none among those in the cleaner Hawkesbury River.
Earlier this year, UNSW scientists revealed that copper-contaminated seaweeds in Sydney Harbour were killing 75 percent of the offspring of small crustaceans that feed on a common brown seaweed.
That study showed that the harbour's seaweeds have the world's highest levels of copper and lead contamination as a consequence of stormwater run-off, industrial wastewaters and motorised watercraft.
The new study found the mutations and lower growth and fertility persisted through several generations of M. plumulosa in controlled laboratory conditions, suggesting that genetic changes are causing permanent negative impacts.
"The lower fertility and growth rates among the creatures exposed to contaminants is probably a stress response," says the study's lead author, UNSW science honours student, Pann Pann Chung.
The crustaceans were randomly sampled from two sites within each river: Homebush Bay South and Duck River in the Parramatta River, and Mooney Mooney and Half Moon Bend in the Hawkesbury.
M. plumulosa is a shrimp-like creature found among rocks and mudflats on shorelines and tide zones, although little is known about its genetic history. A native to the south-eastern coast of Australia, the amphipod feeds on organic material in sand and sediment.
"These crustaceans are sensitive to heavy metals such as copper, cadmium and zinc and scientists use them as a 'test organisms' for assessing the toxicity of marine sediments, says Ms Chung. "They accumulate heavy metals inside their tissues and scientists use them to monitor environmental pollutants."
Other research has revealed that chronic exposure to metal toxicants is linked to DNA damage in earthworms, periwinkles and some fish species.
Dan Gaffney | EurekAlert!
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy