Most biotransformation studies to date have concentrated on single-substance exposures. The biotransformation ability of organisms exposed to a single substance, however, may differ from that of organisms coexposed to binary or complex mixtures. The marine polychaete Capitella sp. I was exposed to either 31 μg/g dry weight sediment of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) in a single-substance exposure or to a mixture of 31 and 28 μg/g dry weight sediment of BaP and fluoranthene (Flu), respectively (coexposure). Biotransformation capability and DNA damage were compared between treatments. Worms exposed to BaP alone accumulated total BaP equivalents to a significantly higher degree than coexposed worms (final body burden: 117.14 ± 3.52 μg BaP equivalents/g dry wt tissue and 69.78 ± 8.58 μg BaP equivalents/g dry wt tissue, respectively), probably because of a higher degree of BaP biotransformation in the latter. In addition, a larger percentage of the accumulated BaP equivalents was in the form of parent compound in worms exposed to BaP alone compared to coexposed worms on day 10 (87 and 56%, respectively). In coexposed worms, Flu was both accumulated and biotransformed to a considerably greater degree than BaP (final Flu body burden: 181.85 ± 18.46 μg Flu equivalents/g dry wt tissue, 24% as parent compound). Neither treatment resulted in significant effects on growth or DNA damage. The present study shows that the extent to which bioaccumulation factors estimated from single-substance exposures have relevance for the field situation will depend on the degree to which accumulation is influenced by the presence of other contaminants. These results therefore are relevant for assessing risks from contaminated sediments.
- Binary mixture
- DNA damage
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon