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Active biomonitoring of a subtropical river using glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and heat shock proteins (HSP 70) in Oreochromis niloticus as surrogate biomarkers of metal contamination

VK Muposhi
B Utete
I Sithole-Niang
S Mukangenyama


The aim of this study was to establish the level of water quality impairment along a mine effluent receiving river, Pote River in Zimbabwe, using Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia) as an indicator organism. Glutathione-S-transferase (GST) enzyme and heat shock protein (HSP 70) expression in the stomach tissue of Nile tilapia were used as biomarkers of heavy metal pollution. Water and fish samples were collected at three sites in the Pote River. Metal concentration in tilapia tissues and water were measured using flame acetylene absorption spectrophotometry while enzymatic activity was determined using ultra-violet spectrophotometry. The concentration of Ni and Zn in water was significantly high compared to the World Health Organization aquatic effluent standards. Cd and Zn were strongly associated with high GST activity and low HSP 70 protein concentrations in fish tissues. Results of this study show that HSP 70 protein and GST enzyme activity can be useful biomarkers of metal contamination in lotic systems.

Keywords: enzymes, biomarkers, heavy metals, Nile tilapia, bioassessment, Pote River

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eISSN: 1816-7950
print ISSN: 0378-4738