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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

Catalase activity in macro- and microorganisms as an indicator of biotic stress in coastal waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea

  • D. L. Angel,
  • U. Fiedler,
  • N. Eden,
  • N. Kress,
  • D. Adelung and
  • B. Herut
Helgoland Marine Research53:90530209.10152


In this study we examined the activity of catalase in the water column (mainly attributed to planktonic microorganisms) and the activity of catalase and superoxide dismutase (SOD), as well as lipid peroxidation in the midgut gland of the benthic bivalve Donax trunculus as possible indicators of biotic stress. The measurements were performed at stations situated at known contaminated and clean sites in the coastal waters and shores along the Israeli coast (eastern Mediterranean Sea). In the water column, we found that catalase activity was higher in polluted coastal waters than in nearby unpolluted or less-polluted stations. Moreover, there was diurnal periodicity in catalase activity rates which matched the diurnal changes in hydrogen peroxide levels in seawater. Consistent evidence of extracellular catalase activity was found in the seawater sampled. Catalase activity rates in the midgut gland of D. trunculus did not exhibit clear patterns with respect to site (polluted or clean) or season. However, SOD activity and lipid peroxidation measured in the same tissues were good indicators of organic pollution in the coastal waters examined and, among the three stations examined in Haifa Bay, Qiriat Haim was the most polluted.

Key words Catalase activitySuperoxide dismutaseBiotic stressDonax trunculusEastern Mediterranean Sea