Exchange rates of cadmium between a burrowing mayfly and its surroundings in nature

Michaud, Annick L., Landis Hare, Peter G. C. Campbell

Limnol. Oceanogr., 50(6), 2005, 1707-1717 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2005.50.6.1707

ABSTRACT: We conducted a reciprocal transfer of nymphs of the burrowing mayfly Hexagenia limbata between two rivers harboring populations of this insect that differed in their cadmium (Cd) concentrations. We measured Cd uptake and loss rates simultaneously in the field at several levels of biological organization: in the gut and body of whole nymphs as well as in three subcellular fractions. The most marked changes in Cd concentrations occurred in the insect’s gut, where Cd was largely associated with heat-stable proteins, a fraction that includes the metal-binding protein metallothionein. Because most of the Cd that entered nymphs was detoxified in this manner, we would not expect it to have direct toxic effects; however, it would be readily transferred to higher trophic levels. Our data on subcellular partitioning suggest that there is a fast-exchanging pool of Cd bound to heat-stable proteins such as metallothionein and a slow-exchanging pool bound to either or both of the remaining fractions (heat-denatured proteins; remainder, which includes exoskeleton and granules). Nymphs of H. limbata responded rapidly to changes in bioavailable Cd, which suggests that they would be useful for monitoring changes in ambient Cd for weeks or months in the field. A one-compartment model successfully explained the changes we observed in nymph Cd values. Furthermore, values of the model constant for Cd loss were close to those reported for Hexagenia rigida in the laboratory, which suggests that accumulation patterns observed in the laboratory can be representative of those measured in nature.

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