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Chemosphere March 1, 2008; 71 (3): 515-28.

Comparison of heavy metal toxicity in life stages (spermiotoxicity, egg toxicity, embryotoxicity and larval toxicity) of Hydroides elegans.

Gopalakrishnan S , Thilagam H , Raja PV .

A toxicity test was developed to examine the effects of heavy metal contaminants on the early life stages of the marine polychaete. We have studied the effects of metals on fertilization and early development of marine polychaete Hydroides elegans. These heavy metals have often been found in polluted ground and water near industrial discharges, and have therefore been detected from time to time in the food chain. They have been reported to alter various reproduction functions in various animals including marine populations. The toxic effect of mercury, cadmium, lead, nickel and zinc on sperm viability, fertilization, embryogenesis and larvae of H. elegans was examined. We observed that the rate of fertilization decreased when the sperm was incubated with heavy metals. Treatment of eggs with each metal did not prevent fertilization, but delayed or blocked the first mitotic divisions, and altered early embryonic development. All these effects were observed at relatively high concentrations. However, bio-accumulation in sediments and aquatic organisms have been reported. Polychaete eggs may then be in contact with very high concentrations of these heavy metals in areas where these metals are not handled or stocked properly, and then develop into abnormal embryos. In addition to bivalves and sea-urchins, polychaete embryos can provide biological criteria for seawater quality standards taking into account the sensitivity of the invertebrates and their contribution in detection of harmful chemicals with no marked effect on the species. Our results indicate that the early development of H. elegans is highly sensitive to heavy metals and this polychaete can be routinely employed as a test organism for ecotoxicity bioassays in tropical and subtropical regions.

PubMed ID: 18022210
Article link: Chemosphere