Toxicity of a cadmium-contaminated diet to Hyalella azteca

Angela L Ball, Uwe Borgmann, D George Dixon
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2006, 25 (9): 2526-32
Four- and 10-week chronic toxicity tests were conducted using the freshwater amphipod Hyalella azteca and Cd-contaminated Chlorella sp. as a food source. Chlorella sp. was cultured in various Cd concentrations, filtered from solution, rinsed, dried, and ground into food flakes for the H. azteca. Unlike Cd toxicity from water sources, growth was found to be a more sensitive toxicological endpoint than survival, with calculated 50 and 25% effect concentrations (EC50s and EC25s, respectively) of 5.43 and 2.82 nmol/g, respectively, for Cd measured in food. Based on the regression of Cd in Chlorella sp. against Cd in filtered culture medium, the EC50 and EC25 corresponded to dissolved Cd concentrations of 11.30 and 5.09 nmol/L, respectively. Little or no bioaccumulation of Cd was found in the tissues of H. azteca that were fed contaminated food. These results demonstrate an apparent toxicological effect (either direct or indirect) of Cd-contaminated Chlorella sp. to H. azteca that is not associated with Cd accumulation. Toxicity of Cd-contaminated Chlorella sp. differs from waterborne Cd toxicity both in terms of the most sensitive endpoint (growth vs survival) and the relationship between toxicity and bioaccumulation. Unlike Cd toxicity through water exposure, Cd bioaccumulation by H. azteca cannot, therefore, be used to infer toxicity of Cd in a diet of Chlorella sp. Although the concentration of Cd in the algal culture medium that ultimately reduced growth of H. azteca in the present study was higher than Cd in water, which caused mortality to H. azteca in water-only tests during previous studies, further research regarding the contribution of dietary Cd to overall Cd toxicity is needed to verify that water-quality guidelines and risk assessments based on water-only exposures are fully protective.

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