Pulse-chase experiments show that two marine bivalves take optimal advantage of different types of particulate food by varying food retention time in a flexible two-phase digestive system. For example, carbon is efficiently assimilated from bacteria by subjecting nearly all the ingested bacteria to prolonged digestion. Prolonging digestion also enhances assimilation of metals, many of which are toxic in minute quantities if they are biologically available. Detritus-feeding aquatic organisms have always lived in environments naturally rich in particle-reactive metals. We suggest that avoiding excess assimilation of metals could be a factor in the evolution of digestion strategies. We tested that suggestion by studying digestion of particles containing different Cr concentrations. We show that bivalves are capable of modifying the digestive processing of food to reduce exposure to high, biologically available, Cr concentrations. The evolution of a mechanism in some species to avoid high concentrations of metals in food could influence how effects of modern metal pollution are manifested in marine ecosystems.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Flexible digestion strategies and trace metal assimilation in marine bivalves|
|Series title||Limnology and Oceanography|
|Contributing office(s)||Pacific Regional Director's Office, San Francisco Bay-Delta, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|