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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Jan 15;38(2):449-56.

Understanding the differences in Cd and Zn bioaccumulation and subcellular storage among different populations of marine clams.

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Department of Biology, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


The marine clams Mactra veneriformis were collected from three different locations in a contaminated bay in Northern China. Another species of clams Ruditapes philippinarum was collected from the same contaminated bay as well as from a relatively clean site in Hong Kong. The indices of Cd and Zn bioaccumulation (assimilation efficiency, dissolved uptake rate, and efflux rate), tissue concentration, subcellular distribution, metallothionein (MT) content, and clearance rate of the clams were subsequently quantified in these populations in the laboratory. In the two species of clams, the population with a higher Cd tissue concentration assimilated Cd and Zn more efficiently, in correlation with an increase in the Cd associated with the metallothionein-like protein (MTLP) fraction. The subcellular partitioning of Zn was similar among the different populations. The dissolved uptake rates of Cd and Zn were not influenced by the different tissue concentrations of metals in the clams. However, the clam R. philippinarum from the contaminated site reduced their Zn uptake rate constants in response to increasing Zn concentration in the water. Differences in Cd and Zn tissue concentrations had little influence on the metal efflux rate constant and the clams' clearance rate. Our results indicate that the higher Cd and Zn tissue concentrations observed in these two species may be partially caused by the high levels of metal assimilation. Populations living in contaminated environments may be able to modify their physiological and biochemical responses to metal stress, which can subsequently alter trace metal bioaccumulation to aquatic animals. The relative significance of dietary uptake and the potential trophic transfer of metals in the contaminated areas may be substantially different from those in the clean environments.

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