The accumulation of lead and mercury from seawater and their depuration by eggs of the spotted dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula (Chondrichthys)

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Journal Article
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2008, 55 (3), pp. 451 - 461
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Radiotracer experiments using 210Pb and 203Hg demonstrated that eggs of the spotted dogfish Scyliorhinus canicula absorbed lead and inorganic mercury directly from seawater over 21 days of experimental exposure, attaining total egg concentration factors (CFs) relative to water of approximately 400 for Pb and 180 for Hg, predominantly (≥98%) due to their accumulation by the collagenous egg case. The rates of accumulation of both Pb and Hg by the total egg were significantly (P < 0.0001) reduced by its increasing age since parturition, whereas only the rate of depuration of Pb was reduced (P < 0.0001) with increasing age; these effects indicate a declining chemical reactivity of the egg case that may be due to the continued tanning of the case following parturition. The egg case per se, attained average CFs of about 1,500 and 850 for Pb and Hg, respectively. Both Pb and Hg showed declining concentration gradients from the exterior to the interior membranes of the wall of the egg case; CFs for Pb declined from 3,500 to 2,000 and for Hg from 5,000 to 500. Comparison of concentrations in separate membranes also demonstrated significant (P ≤ 0.01) depurations of Hg from the external and internal membranes during the loss experiments. The presence of radiotracers of Pb and Hg in the internal components of the egg at the end of uptake phase, and prior to the opening of the apertures, confirmed the permeability of the egg case wall to them, consistent with their observed gradients in it. The average CFs for all embryos at the end of the uptake experiment were 34 and 44 for Pb and Hg, respectively, but were significantly (P < 0.001) enhanced for Hg by a factor of 6 in the older eggs. The accumulatory and kinetic characteristics of the egg-case may operate to optimize the exposure of embryos to Pb and Hg following episodic contaminant events in coastal habitats. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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