• Selenium;
  • Bioaccumulation;
  • Speciation;
  • Uptake kinetics;
  • Chironomids


The objective of the present study was to describe the uptake and elimination kinetics of selenium (Se) administered in the forms of selenate, selenite, and selenomethionine (seleno-DL-methionine) in different life stages of the midge Chironomus dilutus, and to determine the relationship between Se bioavailability and Se speciation using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Midge larvae exposed to 4.3 µg/L as dissolved selenate for 10 d of had negligible accumulation of Se (indistinguishable from control organisms). However, larvae rapidly accumulated Se over 10 d of exposure to 3.8 and 1.8 µg/L selenite and seleno-DL-methionine (Se-met), respectively. Most Se accumulated by larvae exposed to selenite or Se-met was retained after 10 d of elimination in clean water. When additional midge larvae were exposed to Se until emergence, Se accumulated during the larval stage was largely retained in the adults. Although a strong correlation was found between the adult whole-body Se concentration and the Se concentration in the exuvia after emergence, only a minor loss of Se occurred in the shed exuvia compared with larvae and adult whole-body concentrations. X-ray absorption spectroscopy analysis showed that organic selenides and diselenides, modeled as Se-met and selenocystine, respectively, were the dominant forms of Se in both the larval and adult insect stages. The proportion and concentration of organic selenides (selenomethionine) increased in larvae and adults exposed to Se-met and selenite compared with larvae exposed to selenate, whereas the concentration of diselenides (selenocystine) remained relatively constant for all treatments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:2292–2299. © 2011 SETAC