Oral Presentation Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Australasia 2021

Try and try again; the path to utilising Antarctic soil-dwelling microinvertebrates as ecotoxicological test species. (#139)

Jordan S McCarthy 1 2 , Kathryn E Brown 3 , Catherine K King 3 , Stephanie Wallace Polley 1 2 , Katie Plaisted 1 2 , Uffe N Nielsen 4 , Graeme Allinson 5 , Tim Spedding 6 , Spas D Kolev 1 , Suzie M Reichman 1 2
  1. Centre for Anthropogenic Pollution Impact and Management, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia
  2. School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Australia
  3. Environmental Protection, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, TAS, Australia
  4. Hawksbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW, Australia
  5. School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  6. Environmental Remediation, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, TAS, Australia

Despite its remoteness, Antarctica is not immune to human impacts and has a legacy of metal and hydrocarbon contamination around sites of current and historic human activity. This contamination is particularly concerning in soils, which make up only a minor portion of the 0.4% of the continent that is ice-free. Antarctic soils are home to a variety of microinvertebrates, including rotifers and tardigrades, which could be impacted by this contamination. Soil-dwelling microinvertebrates are not as well studied as their water-dwelling counterparts. This leaves many unknowns in our understanding including their response to contaminants, and even their culturing and care in a laboratory environment. To protect these faunae, their sensitivity to toxicants needs to be determined and to do this, culturing and testing protocols need to be adapted or developed which mimic their natural environment.

Culturing and ecotoxicological testing protocols have been developed for an Antarctic soil-dwelling Rotifer (Philodina sp. genetic ID pending), and tardigrade (genetic ID pending). Organisms were isolated directly from soil samples collected from the Windmill Islands region of East Antarctica and kept alive while culturing trials were investigated. Soil elutriates and Balanced Salt Solution were found to be successful as aqueous culture media able to produce large populations of individuals for ecotox testing. An ecotoxiciological test protocol was developed using an aqueous 1:1 soil elutriate to simulate the organism’s natural soil-dwelling conditions. To date organism response has been tested using this method for both Rotifers and Tardigrades against a number of metals including: Copper, Nickel, Zinc and Cadmium. These protocols allow for the production of sensitivity data for endemic Antarctic species, providing data to inform risk assessment and management of soil contamination in the Antarctic environments.