Laboratory experiments employing radiotracer methodology were conducted to determine the assimilation efficiencies from ingested natural seston, the influx rates from the dissolved phase and the efflux rates of 6 trace elements (Ag, Am, Cd, Co, Se and Zn) in the mussel Mytilus edulis. A kinetic model was then employed to predict trace element concentration in mussel tissues in 2 locations for which mussel and environmental data are well described: South San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and Long Island Sound (New York, USA). Assimilation efficiencies from natural seston ranged from 5 to 18% for Ag, 0.6 to 1% for Am, 8 to 20% for Cd, 12 to 16% for Co, 28 to 34% for Se, and 32 to 41% for Zn. Differences in chlorophyll a concentration in ingested natural seston did not have significant impact on the assimilation of Am, Co, Se and Zn. The influx rate of elements from the dissolved phase increased with the dissolved concentration, conforming to Freundlich adsorption isotherms. The calculated dissolved uptake rate constant was greatest for Ag, followed by Zn > Am = Cd > Co > Se. The estimated absorption efficiency from the dissolved phase was 1.53% for Ag, 0.34% for Am, 0.31% for Cd, 0.11% for Co, 0.03% for Se and 0.89% for Zn. Salinity had an inverse effect on the influx rate from the dissolved phase and dissolved organic carbon concentration had no significant effect on trace element uptake. The calculated efflux rate constants for all elements ranged from 1.0 to 3.0% d-1. The route of trace element uptake (food vs dissolved) and the duration of exposure to dissolved trace elements (12 h vs 6 d) did not significantly influence trace element efflux rates. A model which used the experimentally determined influx and efflux rates for each of the trace elements, following exposure from ingested food and from water, predicted concentrations of Ag, Cd, Se and Zn in mussels that were directly comparable to actual tissue concentrations independently measured in the 2 reference sites in national monitoring programs. Sensitivity analysis indicated that the total suspended solids load, which can affect mussel feeding activity, assimilation, and trace element concentration in the dissolved and particulate phases, can significantly influence metal bioaccumulation for particle-reactive elements such as Ag and Am. For all metals, concentrations in mussels are proportionately related to total metal load in the water column and their assimilation efficiency from ingested particles. Further, the model predicted that over 96% of Se in mussels is obtained from ingested food, under conditions typical of coastal waters. For Ag, Am, Cd, Co and Zn, the relative contribution from the dissolved phase decreases significantly with increasing trace element partition coefficients for suspended particles and the assimilation efficiency in mussels of ingested trace elements; values range between 33 and 67% for Ag, 5 and 17% for Am, 47 and 82% for Cd, 4 and 30% for Co, and 17 and 51% for Zn.
Additional publication details
Kinetic determinations of trace element bioaccumulation in the mussel Mytilus edulis