The Use of Normal Phase HPLC in Effect Directed Identification Studies Using the Mussel Mytilus edulis

Emma L. Smith, Peter Donkin and Steven J. Rowland


Petroleum and Organic Geochemistry Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, U.K.

Presented at: International Workshop on the Application of Normal Phase Fractionation in Effect Directed Identification Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands, 26th April 2002.

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Brief Summary

During the 1970ís and 80ís scientists at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) developed and applied a marine coastal environmental health monitoring procedure based on the physiological condition of mussels.

The monitoring procedure developed is termed Scope for Growth (SFG). SFG is a measurement of the energy balance of mussels determined from the rate of food uptake and its assimilation efficiency. This energy balance is strongly indicative of the health of the mussel, since a high positive energy balance is only achieved when a wide range of biochemical processes within the organism are functioning correctly.

A key element of this work was the simultaneous measurement of body burdens of selected chemical contaminants. These chemical measurements provided a means to link observed poor mussel health to causative agents.

At many sites the levels of the limited number of contaminants analysed were insufficient to account for the severity of the biological impact. The failure to identify the cause(s) of major deleterious biological effects represents a serious challenge to water quality management.

There is therefore a need to develop a practical protocol which can be used to augment SFG in monitoring programmes where toxic effects are unexplained through chemical monitoring inventories.

Toxicity-Identification Evaluation (TIE) like procedures are now frequently applied to sediment and water samples taken from the environment.

These procedures essentially involve extraction of the toxic agents from the matrix of interest, fractionation of the extracts using physicochemical techniques to separate the individual toxic agents or groups of related toxic agents, testing and quantifying the toxicity of these fractions and identifying, where possible, the toxic chemical agents by means of appropriate analytical techniques.

There are very few published studies of the successful application of such procedures to the tissues of organisms. Organisms are a highly complex matrix of organic and inorganic chemicals, from which pollutant chemicals are not readily resolved. Indeed, some naturally occurring biochemical agents when released from their compartmentalised form within the organism, can themselves be toxic.

TIE type studies on the tissues of organisms represent a considerable technical challenge.

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