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Low temperatures enhance the toxicity of copper and cadmium to Enchytraeus crypticus through different mechanisms


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Knowledge about how toxicity changes with temperature is important for determining the extent of safety factors required when extrapolating from standard laboratory conditions to variable field scenarios. In the present study, the authors evaluated the toxicity of Cu and Cd to the potworm Enchytraeus crypticus at 6 temperatures in the range of 11 °C to 25 °C. For both metals, reproductive toxicity decreased approximately 2.5-fold with increasing temperature. This is contrary to what most other studies have found. Measurements of the bioavailable fraction of the metals in the soils and the internal metal concentrations in the worms over time showed that the major cause of change in toxicity with temperature for Cu was the worms' ability to regulate internal concentration at high temperatures. Uptake of Cd increased with time at all temperatures and with higher rates at high temperatures. Hence, the lower toxicity of Cd at high temperatures is proposed to be due to the E. crypticus being more efficient at immobilizing Cd and/or repairing damages at high compared to low temperatures. The present study concludes that no consistent relationship between metal toxicity and temperature across species can be made. The metabolic dependence of the species in terms of regulating metal uptake, excretion, immobilization, damage, and repair processes, will be crucial factors in determining species susceptibility to metals at varying temperatures. Environ Toxicol Chem 2013;32:2274–2283. © 2013 SETAC