Genotoxicity effects on Geophagus brasiliensis fish exposed to Doce River water after the environmental disaster in the city of Mariana, MG, Brazil

Abstract The Doce River basin has suffered the largest environmental accident ever occurred in Brazil with the influx of tailings from Fundão and Santarém, belonging to Samarco mining company, due to the disaster in Mariana. A spill between 50 and 60 million m3 of tailings was estimated by the company. According to Samarco, the wastewater was composed mainly of clay, silt and heavy metals like iron, copper and manganese. Thereby, the objective of the present study was evaluated the genotoxic damage in juvenile of Geophagus brasiliensis (Quoy e Gaimard, 1824) exposed to Doce river water before (DRWBA – Doce River water before acident) and after (DRWAA – Doce River water after acident) the influx of tailings from the Germano and Santarém Dam disasters in Mariana, MG, Brazil. For this, 24 individuals of the species G. brasiliensis (obtained on IFES/ALEGRE fish culture) were submitted to a bioassay with three treatments and eight replicates. The treatments were: 1) Control water (water from the urban water supply system, filtered with a 0.45 µm membrane), 2) DRBA and 3) DRAA. After 96 h, these fishes were anesthetized to remove blood for evaluation of genotoxic damage (micronucleus and comet). For the bioassay, a total of 80 L of The Doce River water were collected before the influx of tailings and after the influx and then submitted to metal quantification analysis. Fish exposed to DRWBA and DRWAA treatments showed a significant increase in both the number of erythrocyte micronuclei and the DNA damage index in relation to the control fish; however, they did not present any differences between the two treatments. The results demonstrate that the DRWBA treatment was already genotoxic for the fish, mainly due to dissolved Cu concentrations in the water. The DRWAA treatment probably presented genotoxicity due to the increase in the dissolved fraction and synergistic effects of several metals found in the tailings of the Mariana accident.