John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Effects of diluted bitumen exposure on juvenile sockeye salmon: From cells to performance

Diluted bitumen (dilbit; the product of oil sands extraction) is transported through freshwater ecosystems critical to Pacific salmon. This is concerning, as crude oil disrupts cardiac development, morphology, and function in embryonic fish, and cardiac impairment in salmon can have major consequences on migratory success and fitness. Yet the sensitivity of early life‐stage salmon to dilbit and its specific cardiotoxic effects are unknown. Sockeye salmon parr were exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of the water‐soluble fraction of dilbit (WSFd) for 1 and 4 wk, followed by an examination of molecular, morphological, and organismal endpoints related to cardiotoxicity. We show that parr are sensitive to WSFd, with total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations of 3.5 µg/L sufficient to induce a liver biomarker of PAH exposure, and total PAH of 16.4 µg/L and 66.7 µg/L inducing PAH biomarkers in the heart. Further, WSFd induces concentration‐dependent cardiac remodeling coincident with performance effects: fish exposed to 66.7 µg/L total PAH have relatively fewer myocytes and more collagen in the compact myocardium and impaired swimming performance at 4 wk, whereas the opposite changes occur in fish exposed to 3.5 µg/L total PAH. This study demonstrates cardiac sensitivity to dilbit exposure that could directly impact sockeye migratory success. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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