Bioaccumulation of organic and inorganic selenium in a laboratory food chain

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
By: , and 



Aquatic organisms accumulated selenium (Se) from inorganic and organic Se species via aqueous and food-chain exposure routes. We measured aqueous and food-chain Se bioaccumulation from selenate, selenite, and seleno-L-methionine in a laboratory food chain of algae (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii), daphnids (Daphnia magna), and fish (bluegill, Lepomis macrochirus). Selenium concentrations were monitored radiometrically with 75Se-labeled compounds. All three organisms concentrated Se more strongly from aqueous selenomethionine than from either inorganic Se species. Bioconcentration factors (BCFs) estimated from 1 μg Se/L Se-methionine exposures were approximately 16,000 for algae, 200,000 for daphnids, and 5,000 for bluegills. Algae and daphnids concentrated Se more strongly from selenite (BCFs = 220–3,600) than selenate (BCFs = 65–500) whereas bluegills concenrated Se about equally from both inorganic species (estimated BCFs = 13 to 106). Bioaccumulation of foodborne Se by daphnids and bluegills was similar in food chains dosed with different Se species. Daphnids and bluegills did not accumulate Se concentrations greater than those in their diet, except at very low dietary Se concentrations. Food-chain concentration factors (CFs) for daphnids decreased from near 1.0 to 0.5 with increases in algal Se concentrations, whereas CFs estimated from bluegill exposures averaged 0.5 over a range of foodborne Se concentrations. In exposures based on selenite, bluegills accumulated greater Se concentrations from food than from water. Aqueous and food-chain Se uptakes were approximately additive, and depuration rates were similar in aqueous, food-chain, and combined exposures. Our results suggest that bluegills in Secontaminated habitats accumulate inorganic Se species primarily via food-chain uptake, although organoselenium compounds such as Se-methionine may contribute significantly to Se bioaccumulation by bluegills via both aqueous and food-chain uptake.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Bioaccumulation of organic and inorganic selenium in a laboratory food chain
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
DOI 10.1002/etc.5620120108
Volume 12
Issue 1
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 16 p.
First page 57
Last page 72
Country United States