Effects of Lead Pollution on Ammonia Parkinsoniana (Foraminifera): Ultrastructural and Microanalytical Approaches
The responses of Ammonia parkinsoniana (Foraminifera) exposed to different concentrations of lead (Pb) were evaluated at the cytological level. Foraminifera-bearing sediments were placed in mesocosms that were housed in aquaria each with seawater of a different lead concentration. On the basis of transmission electron microscopy and environmental scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive spectrometer analyses, it was possible to recognize numerous morphological differences between untreated (i.e., control) and treated (i.e., lead enrichment) specimens. In particular, higher concentrations of this pollutant led to numerical increase of lipid droplets characterized by a more electron-dense core, proliferation of residual bodies, a thickening of the organic lining, mitochondrial degeneration, autophagosome proliferation and the development of inorganic aggregates. All these cytological modifications might be related to the pollutant-induced stress and some of them such as the thickening of organic lining might suggest a potential mechanism of protection adopted by foraminifera.