Interactions between methylmercury and selenomethionine injected into mallard eggs



Methylmercury chloride and seleno-L-methionine were injected separately or in combinations into mallard eggs (Anas platyrhynchos), and embryo mortality and teratogenic effects (deformities) were modeled using a logistic regression model. Methylmercury was injected at doses that resulted in concentrations of 0, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.6 µg/g Hg in the egg on a wet weight basis and selenomethionine at doses that resulted in concentrations of 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, and 0.6 µg/g Se in the egg, also on a wet weight basis. When selenomethionine and methylmercury were injected separately, hatching probability decreased in both cases. However, when methylmercury was injected at 1.6 µg/g in combination with selenomethionine at 0.2 µg/g, the presence of the methylmercury resulted in less embryo mortality than had been seen with 0.2 µg/g Se by itself, but it increased the number of deformed embryos and hatchlings. Selenomethionine appeared to be more embryotoxic than equivalent doses of methylmercury when injected into eggs, and both injected methylmercury and selenomethionine were more toxic to mallard embryos than when deposited naturally in the egg by the mother. The underlying mechanisms behind the interactions between methylmercury and selenomethionine and why methylmercury appeared to improve hatching probability of Se-dosed eggs yet increased deformities when the two compounds were combined are unclear. These findings warrant further studies to understand these mechanisms in both laboratory and field settings. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:579–584. © 2011 SETAC