Assessing different mechanisms of toxicity in mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining-affected watershed samples using Caenorhabditis elegans.
Mountaintop removal-valley fill coal mining has been associated with a variety of impacts on ecosystem and human health, in particular reductions in the biodiversity of receiving streams. However, effluents emerging from valley fills contain a complex mixture of chemicals including metals, metalloids, and salts, and it is not clear which of these are the most important drivers of toxicity. We found that streamwater and sediment samples collected from mine-impacted streams of the Upper Mud River in West Virginia inhibited the growth of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Next, we took advantage of genetic and transgenic tools available in this model organism to test the hypotheses that the toxicity could be attributed to metals, selenium, oxidative stress, or osmotic stress. Our results indicate that in general, the toxicity of streamwater to C. elegans was attributable to osmotic stress, while the toxicity of sediments resulted mostly from metals or metalloids.
Turner, EA; Kroeger, GL; Arnold, MC; Thornton, BL; Di Giulio, RT; Meyer, JN
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