Distribution and sources of phytosterols in coastal and river sediments of south-central Chile

Luisa Saavedra, Renato A. Quiñones, José Becerra


DOI: https://doi.org/10.3856/vol42-issue1-fulltext-5

Phytosterols are potential endocrine-disrupting compounds. Quantification of phytosterols was carried out in sediments from four coastal zones and two rivers in south-central Chile. Sterol concentrations were determined by capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and the sources of sedimentary organic matter were determined using sterol ratios and lipid biomarkers. Total sterol concentrations (0.03 to 10.4 µg g-1) were within the range reported for other marine ecosystems and the β-sitosterol concentration (0.01 to 2.01 µg g-1) was lower than previously reported for the upwelling system off Peru.Some coastal stations adjacent to the rivers had β-sitosterol of terrestrial origin. High concentration of β-sitosterol was also found in sediments from more oceanic stations, supporting the notion that this sterol can also be produced by phytoplankton. A clear difference between the two coastal areas adjacent to river mouths was found, with a high presence of terrestrial biomarkers in the sediments near the Biobío River mouth, while on the coastal shelf adjacent to the Itata mouth, the presence of terrestrial markers is higher in the more seaward stations. Biobío river and its mouth have a wide variety of sterols and lipids, and high levels of cholesterol and epicholestanol, which would be possible related to the presence of domestic effluents derived form large cities. No clear spatial pattern emerges between the location of pulp mill industries and β-sitosterol sediment concentration, with the exception of one station located in the Gulf of Arauco.


Saavedra L, Quiñones R, Becerra J. Distribution and sources of phytosterols in coastal and river sediments of south-central Chile. Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res.. 2017;42(1): 61-84. Available from: doi:10.3856/vol42-issue1-fulltext-5 [Accessed 26 Jan. 2021].
Saavedra, L., Quiñones, R., & Becerra, J. (2017). Distribution and sources of phytosterols in coastal and river sediments of south-central Chile. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 42(1), 61-84. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3856/vol42-issue1-fulltext-5