Trophic transfer of trace metals from protozoa to mesozooplankton

Twining, Benjamin S., Nicholas S. Fisher

Limnol. Oceanogr., 49(1), 2004, 28-39 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2004.49.1.0028

ABSTRACT: Radiotracer techniques were used to quantify the assimilation and subsequent efflux of silver, cadmium, iron, mercury, thallium, and zinc by mesozooplankton fed ciliates, heterotrophic dinoflagellates, or heterotrophic flagellates, and the results were compared with published values measured for phytoplankton prey. The subcellular distribution of the metals within the prey cells was also determined and related to their bioavailability. Marine copepods assimilated 59-82% of Ag, 83-92% of Cd, 32-66% of Fe, 14-49% of Hg, and 71-78% of Zn ingested with protozoan prey. Higher Ag, Cd, Fe, and Hg assimilation efficiencies were observed for at least one of the species of protozoa than reported in the literature for phytoplankton. Significant differences in assimilation were not observed for Zn or for Tl fed to freshwater Ceriodaphnia in either protozoa or phytoplankton. The higher assimilation efficiencies of protozoan metals, when observed, were matched by higher fractions of metals in the cytoplasm of protozoa. A biokinetic model used to calculate steady-state metal concentrations in copepods indicates that copepods may contain 119% more Ag and 44% more Zn when feeding on ciliates instead of diatoms, possibly resulting in sublethal toxic effects at Ag and Zn concentrations reported for the Hudson River estuary. Further, higher assimilation and efflux rates of protozoan Fe may enhance remineralization of this limiting nutrient by mesozooplankton in high nutrient, low chlorophyll regions.

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