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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2001 Jun;20(6):1159-66.

Effects of natural organic matter source on reducing metal toxicity to rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and on metal binding to their gills.

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  • 1Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.


Juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, 3 g) were exposed for 74 h in ion-poor (soft) water to a mixed-metal solution in the presence of 4, 6, and 10 mg C/L natural organic matter (NOM). The metals were 0.2 microM Pb, 0.1 microM Hg, 0.1 microM Cd, 1.3 microM Cu, 0.05 microM Ag, and 3.5 microM Co, and the natural organic matter was isolated by reverse osmosis from three sources in southern Ontario, Canada. The six-metal solution alone was extremely toxic to the fish. Increasing concentrations of each NOM increased trout survival, but the NOM having the most allochthonous properties (from Luther Marsh) increased fish survival most, while the NOM having the most autochthonous properties (from Sanctuary Pond, Point Pelee) increased fish survival least. This pattern was reflected in the degree of reduction of Pb and Cu accumulation by the gills. Relatively simple chemical characterization of NOM, such as protein-to-carbohydrate ratios, or optical characterization, such as absorbance-to-fluorescence ratios (e.g., representing aromaticity), may adequately reflect these biologically relevant differences in organic matter quality.

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