Relationships among total lipid, lipid classes, and polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in two indigenous populations of ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) over an annual cycle

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Two indigenous ribbed mussel (Geukensia demissa) populations were sampled approximately every four weeks during 1997 to investigate the relationships among concentrations of total lipid, lipid classes, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). One population was located in a highly contaminated area near a Superfund site (New Bedford Harbor, MA, USA), while the other population was located at a relatively clean site (West Island, Fairhaven, MA, USA). Mussel tissue total PCB concentrations (quantified as the sum of 18 congeners) from the contaminated site were two orders of magnitude greater than those at the clean site. Total lipid and triacylglycerol (TG) also were higher at the contaminated site. No significant relationship (p > 0.05) was observed between total PCBs and total lipid at either location; however, the correlations at both sites increased when total PCBs were compared with total TG or, to a lesser extent, total nonpolar lipid. Principal component analysis and linear discriminatory analysis indicated that the two mussel populations could be distinguished by the proportions of their lipid classes, particularly the concentration of nonpolar lipids, which consisted mainly of TG. These results suggest that the standard method of normalizing organism PCB concentrations to total lipid may not be appropriate as a routine practice, especially when the organism has a relatively low total lipid content (> 6% dry wt in this study).

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Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry