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Keywords:

  • Metals;
  • Contaminated prey;
  • Subcellular fractions;
  • Trophic transfer

Abstract

In the present study, the authors used a supply of naturally contaminated oysters to investigate how the subcellular metal distribution and the metal burden in prey affected the transfer of metals to a marine fish, the grunt Terapon jarbua. The oysters, Crassostrea hongkongensis, each with different contamination histories, were collected and separated into 3 subcellular fractions: 1) metal-rich granules, 2) cellular debris, and 3) a combined fraction of organelles, heat-denatured proteins, and metallothionein-like proteins, defined as the trophically available metal (TAM). These purified fractions showed a wide range of metal concentrations and were fed to the fish for a period of 7 d at a daily comparable feeding rate of 3% of fish body weight. After 7 d exposure, the newly absorbed metals were mainly distributed in the intestine and liver, indicating a significant tissue-specific trophic transfer, especially for Cd and Cu. The trophic transfer factors (TTFs) showed a sequence of cellular debris >TAM > metal-rich granules, suggesting the impact of subcellular distribution in prey on metal bioavailability. However, significant inverse relationships between the TTFs and the metal concentrations in diets were also found in the present study, especially for Cd and Zn. The subcellular metal compartmentalization might be less important than the metal concentration in prey influencing the trophic transfer. The authors' results have important implications for bioavailability and environmental assessment of dietary metals. Environ Toxicol Chem 2013;32:2109–2116. © 2013 SETAC