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The ecological complexity of the Thai-Laos Mekong River : III. Health status of Mekong catfish and cyprinids, evidence of bioaccumulative effects

Phanwichien, K. and Pradermwong, A. and Keenan, H.E. and Masawang, K. and Lauhachinda, N. and Songsasen, A. and Sakultantimetha, A. and Bangkedphol, S. and Gaines, A.F. (2010) The ecological complexity of the Thai-Laos Mekong River : III. Health status of Mekong catfish and cyprinids, evidence of bioaccumulative effects. Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A, 45 (13). pp. 1681-1688. ISSN 1093-4529

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Abstract

Histopathology of fish organs was used as biomarkers of toxicity from environmental pollutants. A total of 117 fishes comprising of 52 cyprinids and 65 catfishes were randomly collected from the Mekong River from 5 stations: Chiang Rai, Loei, Nongkhai, Nakhon Phanom and Ubonratchathani. The health of the fish collected in December and April, winter and summer respectively, was evaluated. All fish from the 5 stations developed pathologic lesions with the same characteristics in their livers, kidneys and spleen. In the liver, there was vacuolation of hepatocytes, accumulation of brownish-green granules in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes, necrosis of hepatocytes, granuloma formation and angiogenesis. Kidney lesions consisted of glomerular degeneration, necrosis and focal hyperplasia of renal tubules. In the spleen, there were haemorrhage, melanomacrophage centre infiltration and necrosis of the red pulp and white pulp. The pathologic severity of the catfish was found to be more severe than in the cyprinids and the catfish collected in summer were less healthy than the catfish collected in the winter. These histopathological appearances might arise from the fish feeding on the benthos and thereby accumulating toxic pollutants in their organs. The activities of the serum enzymes, Glutamic Oxalacetic Transaminase (GOT) and Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase (GPT), were markedly increased, indicating detoxification activity. The highest activity of GOT found in the cyprinids from Chiang Rai 365.30 U/L whereas in the catfish from Nakhon Phanom the activity was 300.73 U/L. The highest GPT activity found in the cyprinids from Nakhon Phanom was 203.23 U/L where as in the catfish from the same station was GPT 389.77 U/L. According to the results from this study, catfish collected from Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom and Ubonratchathani showed more severe pathological changes than catfish from the other stations. Fish organs and river water were analysed for Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals. The fish organs showed bioaccumulation of these toxic pollutants. BioConcentration Factors (BCFs) were calculated. Therefore an attempt is made to correlate these findings to the Mekong study in general.