Marine radionuclide transfer factors in chordates and a phylogenetic hypothesis

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Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 2013, 126 pp. 388 - 398
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Previous radiotracer experiments that compared multi-elemental whole organism: water transfer factors among chondrichthyan and teleost fishes, including an ICRP reference flatfish Psetta maxima, demonstrated distinctive contrasts in their bioaccumulation characteristics, with generally elevated bioaccumulation in chondrichthyans. These results supported a hypothesis that phylogenetic divergence may influence marine radionuclide transfer factors. This notion has been further evaluated in an amphioxus species Branchiostoma lanceolatum, sub-phylum Cephalochordata. This taxon diverged about 800 MYBP from a common ancestor of the teleosts and the chondrichthyans, which in turn diverged from each other around 500 MYBP. Our experimental results indicate that amphioxus is indeed more divergent in its multi-elemental bioaccumulation patterns from teleosts and chondrichthyans than they are from each other, consistent with our hypothesis. The experimental comparisons with the ICRP reference flatfish P.maxima also revealed an unexpectedly enhanced capacity in amphioxus to accumulate all eight tested trace elements from seawater, and for some by more than two orders of magnitude. These results have practical applications for the strategic selection of marine biota for further radioecological investigations to better guarantee the radiological protection of marine biodiversity. Such seemingly anomalous results for understudied biota like amphioxus and chondrichthyans suggest that more effort in marine radioecology be directed to assessing the bioaccumulatory capacities of other phylogenetic groups that have received less attention so far, particularly those that are phylogenetically more remote from commonly investigated taxa and those nominated as ICRP marine reference organisms. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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