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Keywords:

  • Mercury;
  • Methylmercury;
  • Egg injections;
  • Embryotoxicity;
  • Solvents

Abstract

In a previous study, the embryotoxicity of methylmercury dissolved in corn oil was compared among 26 species of birds. Corn oil is not soluble in the water-based matrix that constitutes the albumen of an egg. To determine whether the use of corn oil limited the usefulness of this earlier study, a comparison was made of the embryotoxicity of methylmercury dissolved in corn oil versus water. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and chicken (Gallus gallus) eggs were injected with methylmercury chloride dissolved in corn oil or water to achieve concentrations of 0, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.6 µg/g mercury in the egg on a wet weight basis. Hatching success at each dose of mercury was compared between the two solvents. For mallards, 16.4% of the eggs injected with 1.6 µg/g mercury dissolved in water hatched, which was statistically lower than the 37.6% hatch rate of eggs injected with 1.6 µg/g mercury dissolved in corn oil, but no differences in hatching success were observed between corn oil and water at any of the other doses. With chicken eggs, no significant differences occurred in percentage hatch of eggs between corn oil and water at any of the mercury doses. Methylmercury dissolved in corn oil seems to have a toxicity to avian embryos similar to that of does methylmercury dissolved in water. Consequently, the results from the earlier study that described the toxicity of methylmercury dissolved in corn oil to avian embryos were probably not compromised by the use of corn oil as a solvent. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:2103–2106. © 2011 SETAC