African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Effects of chronic exposures of selected heavy metals on the glutathione S-transferase activity of freshwater snails Lymnaea natalensis in Zimbabwe

S.M. Mnkandla, A.H. Siwela, N. Basopo


The effect of the heavy metals (cadmium, copper, mercury and lead) on snail glutathione S-transferase (GST) was investigated in 2015. Groups of Lymnaea natalensis snails were exposed to heavy metals for 28 days at concentrations reportedly found in the Mguza Dam. Water and food were changed daily. Samples were collected at days 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28 post exposure. Inhibition of GST activity, following cadmium exposures, ranged between 58 and 60%, with a decrease of 30% on day 28. When snails were exposed to copper, inhibition significantly decreased by 16%, 29%, 49% and 72% inhibition when tested on days 1, 7, 14 and 21, respectively. Inhibition on day 28 was 44%. Mercury exposures resulted in significant increases in GST inhibition, namely, 47%, 62% and 79% inhibition on days 1, 7 and 14, respectively. Inhibition on day 21 was 82%, whereas on day 28 it was significantly lower, at 29%. Concerning lead exposures, inhibition levels on day 1, 7 and 21 had mean inhibition of 60%. Inhibition on days 14 and 28 was significantly lower, with a mean inhibition of 30%. These results suggest that chronic exposures could inhibit GST activity for a certain period, after which inhibition is reduced, possibly as a result of adaptation.

Keywords: adaptation, biochemistry, biomarker, cadmium, copper, enzyme inhibition, lead, mercury, Mguza Dam

AJOL African Journals Online