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Sabrina St-Hilaire






Multigenerational toxicity of lead from fishing gear to the freshwater snail, Planorbella pilsbryi


Lead is a highly toxic element with no known biological function. It is estimated that over 460 tonnes of lead fishing gear are lost in Canada’s waterways annually, posing a health risk to aquatic organisms. There is an ongoing debate in the fishing community on the impact of lost lead fishing gear to the aquatic environment. Although the toxicity of lead is well known, the toxicity of lead from fishing gear remains unknown. Lower trophic-level organisms, such as invertebrates, are an important food source within aquatic food-webs and are highly sensitive to metals in the ecosystem. Despite their importance and abundance in aquatic environments, freshwater snails (Planorbella pilsbryi) lack representation in environmental risk assessments. In order to address these research gaps, this project has two main objectives: (i) to determine the toxicity of lead from fishing gear to P. pilsbryi through a multigenerational exposure; (ii) use metabolomics to investigate the mechanisms of lead toxicity to P. pilsbryi. Chronic 28-d exposures were conducted with adult snails, and embryo exposures were conducted on eggs from unexposed (F0) and exposed (F1) adults. The lead from fishing gear did not affect the reproduction or growth of adult snails, however there was an decrease in growth seen when lead sinkers were added to the jars, and in the positive control, 10 mg/L (nominal) Pb(NO3)2. We observed decreased hatching in the F0 embryo generation at the highest concentrations of lead from fishing gear. Similar results were observed in the F1 embryo generation. Future metabolomic analysis will provide insight into the mechanistic toxicity of lead and the physiological pathways disrupted. This work will provide fundamental knowledge for metabolomics in freshwater snails, contributing relevant data to risk assessors on the risk of lead fishing gear and provide baseline data for future efforts restricting the use of lead fishing gear in Canada.

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