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PLoS One. 2018 Apr 23;13(4):e0196222. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196222. eCollection 2018.

Bioaccumulation of trace metals in octocorals depends on age and tissue compartmentalization.

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Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung, Taiwan.
Dept. of Biomedical Science and Environmental Biology, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Department of Marine Biotechnology and Resources, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan R.O.C.
Department of Marketing and Logistic Management, Yu Da College of Business, Miaoli, Taiwan.
Department of Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong, China P.R.
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences & Research Institute of Oceanography, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


Trace metal dynamics have not been studied with respect to growth increments in octocorals. It is particularly unknown whether ontogenetic compartmentalization of trace metal accumulation is species-specific. We studied here for the first time the intracolonial distribution and concentrations of 18 trace metals in the octocorals Subergorgia suberosa, Echinogorgia complexa and E. reticulata that were retrieved from the northern coast of Taiwan. Levels of trace metals were considerably elevated in corals collected at these particular coral habitats as a result of diverse anthropogenic inputs. There was a significant difference in the concentration of metals among octocorals except for Sn. Both species of Echinogorgia contained significantly higher concentrations of Cu, Zn and Al than Subergorgia suberosa. We used for the first time exponential growth curves that describe an age-specific relationship of octocoral trace metal concentrations of Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Pb where the distance from the grip point was reflecting younger age as linear regressions. The larger colony (C7) had a lower accumulation rate constant than the smaller one (C6) for Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr and Pb, while other trace metals showed an opposite trend. The Cu concentration declined exponentially from the grip point, whereas the concentrations of Zn, Cd, Cr and Pb increased exponentially. In S. suberosa and E. reticulata, Zn occurred primarily in coenosarc tissues and Zn concentrations increased with distance from the grip point in both skeletal and coenosarc tissues. Metals which appeared at high concentrations (e.g. Ca, Zn and Fe) generally tended to accumulate in the outer coenosarc tissues, while metals with low concentrations (e.g. V) tended to accumulate in the soft tissues of the inner skeleton.

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