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Mar Pollut Bull. 2008;57(6-12):790-800. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.01.033. Epub 2008 Mar 6.

Field validation, in Scotland and Iceland, of the artificial mussel for monitoring trace metals in temperate seas.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.


The artificial mussel (AM), a novel chemical sampling device, has been developed for monitoring dissolved trace metals in marine environments. The AM consists of Chelex-100 suspended in artificial seawater within Perspex tubing and enclosed with semi-permeable polyacrylamide gel at both ends. To validate the field performance of the AM in temperate waters, we deployed AMs alongside transplanted blue mussels Mytilus edulis in coastal environments in Scotland (Holy Loch, Loch Fyne, Loch Striven and Millport) and Iceland (Reykjavikurhöfn, Gufunes, South of thornerney, Hofsvik, Hvalfjörethur and Sandgerethi) for monitoring trace metals. While uptake patterns of Cd between the AM and M. edulis were highly comparable, discrepancies were found in the accumulation profiles of the other metals (Cu, Cr, Pb and Zn), in particular Zn. Nonetheless, the AMs gave a better resolution to accurately reveal the spatial difference in dissolved metal contamination when compared with M. edulis. AMs complement the use of mussels since AMs indicate dissolved metals in seawater, whereas uptake by mussels indicates a mixture of dissolved and particulate metals. Our results also indicated that historical metal exposure of the transplanted M. edulis could significantly confound their metal concentrations especially when the deployment period was short (i.e. <34d). This study suggested that the AM can overcome problems associated with variable biological attributes and pre-exposure history in the mussel, and provides a standardized and representative time-integrated estimate of dissolved metal concentrations in different marine environments.

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