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Relationship between metabolism and bioaccumulation of benzo[α]pyrene in benthic invertebrates


  • Presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA November 16–20, 2002.


The potential influence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) metabolism on bioaccumulation is well accepted, but rarely has been examined in many species of benthic invertebrates that commonly are found in contaminated sediments, or used in bioaccumulation or toxicity tests. In this study, the relative ability of 11 species of near-shore benthic invertebrates to metabolize and bioaccumulate a model PAH, benzo[α]pyrene (BαP), was evaluated. Species examined included six polychaetes (Clymenella torquata, Nereis virens, Nereis succinea, Nephtys incisa, Spio setosa and Cirriformia grandis), three bivalves, (Macoma balthica, Mya arenaria, and Mulinia lateralis), and two amphipods (Ampelisca abdita and Leptocheirus plumulosus). After 7 d of exposure to sediments spiked with radiolabeled BαP, metabolites comprised between 6.1% (Clymenella torquata) to 85.7% (Nereis succinea) of total accumulated BαP, with individual species from the same phylogenetic groups showing large differences in their ability to metabolize this PAH. Bioaccumulation factors (BαP in tissue/BαP in sediment) were inversely related to the species' ability to metabolize PAH, highlighting the importance of considering metabolism when interpreting bioaccumulation across several species. These data argue strongly against the continued use of the large polychaete Nereis virens, one of the species showing the greatest ability to metabolize BαP, for bioaccumulation testing when PAHs are being considered. Other commonly used test species had relatively low levels of metabolism (Ampelisca abdita, Leptocheirus plumulosus, and Macoma balthica), supporting their use in evaluation of potential PAH impact on the environment.