Many aspects of metal accumulation in aquatic invertebrates (i.e. toxicity, tolerance and trophic transfer) can be understood by examining the subcellular partitioning of accumulated metal. In this paper, we use a compartmentalization approach to interpret the significance of metal, species and size dependence in the subcellular partitioning of Cd and Zn in the bivalves Macoma balthica and Potamocorbula amurensis. Of special interest is the compartmentalization of metal as metal-sensitive fractions (MSF) (i.e. organelles and heat-sensitive proteins, termed 'enzymes' hereafter) and biologically detoxified metal (BDM) (i.e. metallothioneins [MT] and metal-rich granules [MRG]). Clams from San Francisco Bay, CA, were exposed for 14 d to seawater (20??? salinity) containing 3.5 ??g l-1 Cd and 20.5 ??g l-1 Zn, including 109Cd and 65Zn as radiotracers. Uptake was followed by 21 d of depuration. The subcellular partitioning of metal within clams was examined following exposure and loss. P. amurensis accumulated ???22x more Cd and ???2x more Zn than M. balthica. MT played an important role in the storage of Cd in P. amurensis, while organelles were the major site of Zn accumulation. In M. balthica, Cd and Zn partitioned similarly, although the pathway of detoxification was metal-specific (MRG for Cd; MRG and MT for Zn). Upon loss, M. balthica depurated ???40% of Cd with Zn being retained; P. amurensis retained Cd and depurated Zn (???40%). During efflux, Cd and Zn concentrations in the MSF compartment of both clams declined with metal either being lost from the animal or being transferred to the BDM compartment. Subcellular compartmentalization was also size-dependent, with the importance of BDM increasing with clam size; MSF decreased accordingly. We hypothesized that progressive retention of metal as BDM (i.e. MRG) with age may lead to size dependency of metal concentrations often observed in some populations of M. balthica.
Additional publication details
Subcellular compartmentalization of Cd and Zn in two bivalves. I. Significance of metal-sensitive fractions (MSF) and biologically detoxified metal (BDM)