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Sci Total Environ. 2008 Dec 15;407(1):197-203. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.08.028. Epub 2008 Sep 25.

Effect of dietary methylmercury and seleno-methionine on Sacramento splittail larvae.

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  • 1Center for Health and the Environment, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The effects of methylmercury (MeHg) and selenium (Se) contamination on food webs in the San Francisco Estuary have received considerable attention during the past decade. However, knowledge of their effects on native fishes of California is lacking. This study investigated the interactive effects of dietary MeHg and seleno-methionine (SeMet) on Sacramento splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) larvae. Twelve diets containing increasing levels of SeMet (0.64, 8.2 and 35.0 microg Se g(-1) diet) and MeHg (0.01, 0.13, 4.7 and 11.7 microg Hg g(-1) diet) were fed to 21-day post-hatch larvae for 4 weeks in 2-L beakers at 25 degrees C. Fish were fed twice a day at a feeding rate of 40, 30, 25 and 20% of body weight during the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th week, respectively. At the end of week 4, no significant difference (P>0.05) was observed among treatments for mortality, body length or weight, and condition factor. Bioaccumulation of Hg and Se responded positively and significantly (P<0.05) to their dietary concentrations. The molar ratio of Se/Hg in diets was linearly correlated to the ratio of Se/Hg in fish. Dietary Se inhibited Hg accumulation, which was negatively correlated to the dietary Se/Hg ratio. Histopathological examination revealed severe gill anomaly and liver glycogen depletion in fish fed the 11.7 microg Hg g(-1) diet. Liver glycogen depletion and kidney tubular dilation were found in larvae fed the 11.7 microg Hg and 11.7 microg Hg+35 microg Se g(-1) diets. In conclusion, dietary Hg enhanced Se accumulation but dietary Se inhibited Hg accumulation in splittail. Dietary Se showed a protective effect in fish fed the high MeHg diet. This protection was related to the dietary Se/Hg ratio, which is a more reliable criterion for evaluating the interactive effect between Se and Hg in splittail.

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