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Environ Pollut. 2002;116(1):147-57.

Metal-induced tolerance in the freshwater microbenthic diatom Gomphonema parvulum.

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Department of Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology, IBED, Faculty of Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The benthic diatom Gomphonema parvulum K├╝tzing is a common species in both clean and metal contaminated rivers. Our aim was to investigate whether metal-induced tolerance could explain the persistance of this taxon under metal polluted conditions. G. parvulum strains were isolated from a Zn- and Cd-contaminated stream and from a relatively clean ("reference") stream. The strains were cultured in synthetic medium as mono-specific biofilms to maintain their specific benthic growth features. Moreover, the strain from the metal polluted stream was cultured in plain and Zn- and Cd-enriched synthetic medium. Short-term (5 h) toxicity experiments with Zn were performed with the strains using pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry. Zn lowered significantly the minimal chlorophyll fluorescence (F0) and the photon yield (phi(p)) of the exposed strains after 5 h exposure. The actual Zn concentrations that caused a 50% reduction (EC50's) of the phi(p) of the strain from the metal polluted stream were significantly higher than those of the isolate from the unpolluted stream. The absence of tolerance to Cu of the "polluted" strain indicated that Zn tolerance resulted from specific induction by chronic exposure to Zn in the field. Observations on field biofilms confirmed a higher tolerance of the G. parvulum population from the polluted stream than of the G. parvulum population from the reference stream. A genetic nature of this metal adaptation was supported by the persistance of the Zn tolerance of the polluted strain 2 years after isolation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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