The effects of oil and oil dispersants on the amphipod Gammarus oceanicus from Arctic waters

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Aunaas, Tore ; Olsen, Anders ; Zachariassen, Karl Erik (1991)

Amphipods of the species Gammarus oceanicus were exposed to water soluble fractions and water emulsions crude oil, the dispersants Finasol OSR-5 and Finasol OSR-12, and combinations of the oil and dispersants. Adding Finasol OSR-12 to the crude oil caused a reduction in the mortality of the amphipods compared with amphipods exposed to the water soluble fraction and the water emulsion of crude oil alone, probably due to a reduced mole fraction of toxic oil components in the mixture of oil and dispersant. Exposure to sublethal concentrations of water soluble fractions increased the respiratory rates of the amphipods in the majority of the exposed groups. The water soluble fractions slightly increased the concentrations of sodium in the haemolymph and in the whole organism. Some exposures gave a significant increase in the relative water content of the amphipods. The water soluble fractions probably increase the membrane permeability to water and ions, leading to an increased influx of water and sodium from the medium. The increased respiratory rates are likely to be due to a compensatory extrusion of sodium. Exposure to sublethal concentrations of water emulsions reduced the respiratory rates of the amphipods, probably due to oil droplets adhering to the gill membranes and thus causing a reduced rate of oxygen diffusion into the organisms. The majority of the exposures to water emulsions increased concentrations of sodium in the haemolymph as well as in whole organisms. Thus, sodium probably accumulates in the intracellular compartments because the sodium pumps are restricted by the reduced energy available. This is likely to lead to an osmotic swelling of cells. Reduced total free amino acid concentrations in these amphipods is ascribed to volume regulation of the swollen cells, and a reduced co-transport of sodium and free amino acids from the haemolymph to the intracellular compartments.
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