Moderate acidification mitigates the toxic effects of phenanthrene on the mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis


  • Phenanthrene at environmentally-relevant concentration caused toxic effects on crabs.
  • Acidification (pH6.5) mitigated the toxic effects of phenanthrene on crabs.
  • Phenanthrene caused enrichment of disease and immune related pathways.
  • The interaction of pH 6.5 and phenanthrene made the metabolic pathway more enriched.


Freshwater acidification and phenanthrene may result in complex adverse effects on aquatic animals. Juvenile Chinese mitten crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) were exposed to different pH levels (7.8, 6.5, and 5.5) under phenanthrene (PHE) (0 (control) and 50 μg/L) conditions for 14 days. Antioxidant and transcriptomic responses were determined under stress conditions to evaluate the physiological adaptation of crabs. Under the control pH 7.8, PHE led to significantly reduced activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase (GR) and glutathione S-transferase (GST), but increased glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), 7-ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase (EROD) activities, and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels. However, moderate acidification (pH 6.5) changed PHE effects by increasing antioxidant enzymes. Acidification generally reduced SOD, GPx, GST and EROD activities, but increased CAT, GR, MDA. Compared with pH7.8 group, pH7.8 × PHE and pH6.5 × PHE groups had 1148 and 1498 differentially expressed genes, respectively, with “Biological process” being the main category in the two experimental groups. pH7.8 × PHE treatment caused significant enrichment of disease and immune-related pathways, while under pH6.5 × PHE, more pathways related to metabolism, detoxification, environmental information processing, and energy supply were significantly enriched. Thus, PHE had a significant inhibitory effect on antioxidant performance in crabs, while moderate acidification (pH6.5) mitigated the toxic effects of PHE. Overall, moderate acidification has a positive effect on the defense against the negative effects of PHE in Chinese mitten crabs, and this study provides insights into the defense mechanism of crustaceans in response to combined stress of acidification and PHE.

Yang Z., Fang Y., Liu J., Chen A., Cheng Y. & Wang Y., 2022. Moderate acidification mitigates the toxic effects of phenanthrene on the mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis. Chemosphere: 133783. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.133783. Article.

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: