Table of Contents
Journal of Ecosystems
Volume 2015, Article ID 415293, 7 pages
Research Article

Assessment of Water Pollution Signs in the Brazilian Pampa Biome Using Stress Biomarkers in Fish (Astyanax sp.)

Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, CIPBIOTEC, Universidade Federal do Pampa, Campus São Gabriel, 97.300-000 São Gabriel, RS, Brazil

Received 16 September 2014; Revised 9 January 2015; Accepted 12 January 2015

Academic Editor: Winn-Jung Huang

Copyright © 2015 Mauro Nunes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Located in southern Brazil, the Pampa biome has been under constant threat due to improper management of human effluents and use of pesticides. These contaminants accumulate mainly in water resources resulting in chronic poisoning of aquatic biota. Up to date, no studies on the assessment of environmental quality in the Brazilian portion of Pampa biome have been undertaken. Thereby, our main goal in this study was to investigate the ecotoxicological risks caused by human activity in the Santa Maria River, a major water course in the Brazilian Pampa biome. Brain and muscle tissues were used for determining oxidative stress and cholinesterase biomarkers in fish (Astyanax sp.) exposed to urban and agricultural effluents. A substantial decrease in fish muscle acetylcholinesterase activity was observed in exposed animals, compared to controls (kept under laboratory conditions). In parallel, increased lipid peroxidation and significant changes in stress-responsive antioxidant enzymes (GST, CAT, GPx, and TrxR) were detected. In the fish brain, a significant increase in GST activity is reported. In conclusion, our results showed significant changes in biomarkers of water contamination in Astyanax captured in Santa Maria River, pointing to important levels of water pollution in the region and validating the use of Astyanax in biomonitoring programs within the Pampa biome borders.