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Environ Pollut. 2017 Apr;223:311-322. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.01.028. Epub 2017 Jan 22.

Mechanisms of nickel toxicity to fish and invertebrates in marine and estuarine waters.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, AB, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.


In freshwater settings the toxicity of the trace metal nickel (Ni) is relatively well understood. However, until recently, there was little knowledge regarding Ni toxicity in waters of higher salinity, where factors such as water chemistry and the physiology of estuarine and marine biota would be expected to alter toxicological impact. This review summarizes recent literature investigating Ni toxicity in marine and estuarine invertebrates and fish. As in freshwater, three main mechanisms of Ni toxicity exist: ionoregulatory impairment, inhibition of respiration, and promotion of oxidative stress. However, unlike in freshwater biota, where mechanisms of toxicity are largely Class-specific, the delineation of toxic mechanisms between different species is less defined. In general, despite changes in Ni speciation in marine waters, organism physiology appears to be the main driver of toxic impact, a fact that will need to be accounted for when adapting regulatory tools (such as bioavailability normalization) from freshwater to estuarine and marine environments.

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