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DNA Damage in Arctic Seabirds: Baseline, Sensitivity to a Genotoxic Stressor, and Association with Organohalogen Contaminants

Haarr, Ane; Hylland, Ketil; Eckbo, Norith; Gabrielsen, Geir W.; Herzke, Dorte; Bustnes, Jan Ove; Blévin, Pierre; Chastel, Olivier; Moe, Børge; Hanssen, Sveinn Are; Sagerup, Kjetil; Borgå, Katrine


Tidsskrift: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, vol. 37, 1084–1091, 2018

Doi: doi.org/10.1002/etc.4035

Environmental contaminants are found throughout Arctic marine ecosystems, and their presence in seabirds has been
associated with toxicological responses. However, there are few studies of genotoxicity in Arctic avian wildlife. The purpose of
the present study was to quantify deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage in lymphocytes of selected seabird species and to
examine whether accumulation of organohalogen contaminants (SOHCs) affects DNA damage. Blood was sampled from
common eider (Somateria mollissima), black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), glaucous gull
(Larus hyperboreus), arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus), and great skua (Stercorarius skua) in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard (Norway).
Contaminant concentrations found in the 6 species differed, presumably because of foraging ecology and biomagnification.
Despite large differences in contaminant concentrations, ranging from SOHCs 3.3 ng/g wet weight in the common eider to
SOHCs 895 ng/g wet weight in the great skua, there was no strong difference among the species in baseline DNA damage or
sensitivity to a genotoxic stressor (hydrogen peroxide). Baseline levels of DNA damage were low, with median values ranging
from 1.7% in the common eider to 8.6% in the great skua. There were no associations between DNA damage and contaminants
in the investigated species, suggesting that contaminant concentrations in Kongsfjorden are too low to evoke genotoxic effects,
or possibly that lymphocytes are resistant to strand breakage. Clearly, genotoxicity is a topic for future studies of Arctic seabirds
Arctic; Seabirds; Genotoxicity; Comet Assay; Persistent organic pollutants; Perfluoroalkyl substances