Bioavailability of mercury (Hg) to Selenastrum capricornutum was assessed in bioassays containing field-collected freshwater of varying dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations. Bioconcentration factor (BCF) was measured using stable isotopes of methylmercury (MeHg) and inorganic Hg(II). BCFs for MeHg in low-DOC lake water were significantly larger than those in mixtures of lake water and high-DOC river water. The BCF for MeHg in rainwater (lowest DOC) was the largest of any treatment. Rainwater and lake water also had larger BCFs for Hg(II) than river water. Moreover, in freshwater collected from several US and Canadian field sites, BCFs for Hg(II) and MeHg were low when DOC concentrations were >5 mg L-1. These results suggest high concentrations of DOC inhibit bioavailability, while low concentrations may provide optimal conditions for algal uptake of Hg. However, variability of BCFs at low DOC indicates that DOC composition or other ligands may determine site-specific bioavailability of Hg.
Additional publication details
Influence of natural dissolved organic carbon on the bioavailability of mercury to a freshwater alga