Integrative assessment of biomarker responses in Mytilus galloprovincialis exposed to seawater acidification and copper ions

Graphical abstract


  • Both OA and Cu ions caused physiological disturbances to the mussel.
  • Mussels have the ability to restore most of the tested parameters from the stress of OA and Cu ions.
  • Gills are more sensitive than digestive glands.
  • IBR analysis demonstrated the co-exposure caused the most brutal impact to the mussel.


The interactive effects of ocean acidification (OA) and copper (Cu) ions on the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis are not well understood. The underlying mechanisms also remain obscure. In this study, individuals of M. galloprovincialis were exposed for 28 days to 25 μg/L and 50 μg/L Cu ions at two pH levels (ambient level – pH 8.1; acidified level – pH 7.6). The mussels were then monitored for 56 days to determine their recovery ability. Physiological parameters (clearance rate and respiration rate), oxidative stress and neurotoxicity biomarkers (activities of superoxide dismutase, lipid peroxidation, catalase, and acetylcholinesterase), as well as the recovery ability of these parameters, were investigated in two typical tissues (i.e., gills and digestive glands). Results showed that (1) OA affected the bioconcentration of Cu in the gills and digestive glands of the mussels; (2) both OA and Cu can lead to physiological disturbance, oxidative stress, cellular damage, energy metabolism disturbance, and neurotoxicity on M. galloprovincialis; (3) gill is more sensitive to OA and Cu than digestive gland; (4) Most of the biochemical and physiological alternations caused by Cu and OA exposures in M. galloprovincialis can be repaired by the recovery experiments; (5) integrated biomarker response (IBR) analysis demonstrated that both OA and Cu ions exposure caused survival stresses to the mussels, with the highest effect shown in the co-exposure treatment. This study highlights the necessity to include OA along with pollutants in future studies to better elucidate the risks of ecological perturbations. The work also sheds light on the recovery of marine animals after short-term environmental stresses when the natural environment has recovered.

Qu Y., Zhang T., Zhang R., Wang X., Zhang Q., Wang Q., Dong Z. & Zhao J., 2022. Integrative assessment of biomarker responses in Mytilus galloprovincialis exposed to seawater acidification and copper ions. Science of The Total Environment 851(1): 158146. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158146. Article.

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