Exposure-dose-response of Tellina deltoidalis to metal contaminated estuarine sediments 2. Lead spiked sediments


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Lead accumulation in estuarine sediments, as a result of activities such as mining and ore smelting, and through urban runoff is a continuing problem in the increasingly developed world. Marine organisms accumulate lead, which is known to be highly toxic to biological processes and to degrade organism and ecosystem health. Here the relationship between lead exposure, dose and response was investigated in the sediment dwelling, deposit feeding, marine bivalve Tellina deltoidalis. Bivalves were exposed in the laboratory to individual lead spiked sediments at < 0.01, 100 and 300 μg/g dry mass, for 28 days and accumulated total tissue lead concentrations of 4, 96 and 430 μg/g, respectively. Subcellular fractionation indicated that around 70% of the total accumulated tissue lead was detoxified, three quarters of the detoxified lead fraction was converted into metal rich granules, with the remainder in the metallothionein like protein fraction. The majority of biologically active lead was associated with the mitochondrial fraction with up to a 128 fold increase in lead burden in exposed organisms compared to controls. This indicates lead detoxification was occurring but the organism was unable to prevent lead interacting with sensitive organelles. With increased lead exposure T. deltoidalis showed a suppression in glutathione peroxidase activity, total glutathione concentration and reduced GSH:GSSG ratios, however, these differences were not significant. Lead exposed T. deltoidalis had a significantly reduced total antioxidant capacity which corresponded with increased lipid peroxidation, lysosomal destabilisation and micronuclei frequency. The exposure-dose-response relationships demonstrated for lead exposed T. deltoidalis supports its potential for the development of sublethal endpoints in lead toxicity assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-61
Number of pages10
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part C: Toxicology Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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