Bioaccumulation and metabolomics responses in oysters Crassostrea hongkongensis impacted by different levels of metal pollution

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-165
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Pollution
Online published1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


Jiulong River Estuary, located in southern China, was heavily contaminated by metal pollution. In this study, the estuarine oysters Crassostrea hongkongensis were transplanted to two sites with similar hydrological conditions but different levels of metal pollution in Jiulong River Estuary over a six-month period. We characterized the time-series change of metal bioaccumulation and final metabolomics responses of oysters. Following transplantation, all metals (Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn) in the oyster digestive glands had elevated concentrations over time. By the end of six-month exposure, Cu, Zn and Cd were the main metals significantly differentiating the two sites. Using 1H NMR metabolite approach, we further demonstrated the disturbance in osmotic regulation, energy metabolism, and glycerophospholipid metabolism induced by metal contaminations. Six months later, the oysters transplanted in the two sites showed a similar metabolite variation pattern when compared with the initial oysters regardless of different metal levels in the tissues. Interestingly, by comparing the oysters from two sites, the more severely polluted oysters accumulated significantly higher amounts of osmolytes (betaine and homarine) and lower energy storage compounds (glycogen) than the less polluted oysters; these changes could be the potential biomarkers for different levels of metal pollution. Our study demonstrated the complexity of biological effects under field conditions, and NMR metabolomics provides an important approach to detect sensitive variation of oyster inner status.

Research Area(s)

  • 1H NMR spectrometry, Contaminants, Crassostrea hongkongensis, Metabolomics, Metals