Radioecological aftermath: Maternal transfer of anthropogenic radionuclides to shark progeny is sustained and enhanced well beyond maternal exposure

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 2018, 192 pp. 573 - 579
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Cartilaginous dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula continued to transfer four anthropogenic radionuclides ( 65 Zn, 60 Co, 134 Cs and 241 Am) to their eggs for over six months, after two months of continued maternal exposure to radio-labelled food. Unexpectedly, rates of radionuclide transfers to eggs and their yolk & embryo during maternal depuration were equivalent for 60 Co and 241 Am, or even enhanced for 65 Zn and 134 Cs by factors of c.200–350%, over two-three months, compared to their maximal transfer rates at the end of the maternal uptake phase. These rates of maternal transfer of radionuclides to yolk & embryo were positively associated with their previously determined efficiencies of assimilation (AE) from ingested radio-labelled food. Thus progeny may be more exposed via maternal transfer to those radionuclides which have greater rates of maternal assimilation from food. As maternal depuration continued beyond 60–80 up to 180–200 days the transfers of all four radionuclides to eggs did diminish but were still substantial at mean values of 18% for 241 Am, 17% for 134 Cs and 9 and 8% for 60 Co and 65 Zn, respectively. In the yolk & embryo the mean rates of transfer over this period were further reduced for 241 Am (13.5%), 60 Co (2.5%) and 65 Zn (5.8%), but were still appreciable for 134 Cs at 56%. These results for S. canicula have demonstrated a potential enhanced radiological risk of extended duration due to the particular biokinetics of maternal transfer in this species. This study draws further attention to the current paucity of knowledge about the maternal: progeny transfer pathway, particularly in the context of the known heightened radio-sensitivity of early life stages in fish and other vertebrates, compared to later life stages.
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