Although recent work has shown that environmentally relevant concentrations of freshly neutralized aluminium (AI) are bioavailable and toxic to freshwater invertebrates, the genotoxicity of Al has not been examined. Here we show that freshly neutralized Al affects structure and function of the salivary gland polytene chromosomes of the ubiquitous chironomid larva Chironomus riparius over three generations. Exposure to 500 μg l-1 added Al for 24-25 days resulted in a significantly higher frequency of numerous somatic aberrations, while no structural aberrations were found in F1 controls and few in the second and third generation. Aberrations also included deletions of sections of chromosome G of C. riparius larvae as well as deletions of one or more Balbiani rings. Changes in functional activity included decreased activity of the Balbiani rings (BR), and an increase in the number of decondensed centromeres. The activity of the nucleolar organizer (NOR) significantly decreased in F1 chironomids exposed to Al, while in the F2 and F3 generations the NOR showed normal (high) activity. First generation chironomids were generally more susceptible to Al although no clear evidence of tolerance was apparent over three generations. The possible use of alterations in chironomid polytene chromosomes as biomarkers of trace metal pollution is discussed. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Chironomus riparius
- Polytene chromosomes