Unifying Prolonged Copper Exposure, Accumulation, and Toxicity from Food and Water in a Marine Fish

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3465-3471
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
Online published28 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


The link between metal exposure and toxicity is complicated by numerous factors such as exposure route. Here, we exposed a marine fish (juvenile blackhead seabream Acanthopagrus schlegelii schlegelii) to copper either in a commercial fish diet or in seawater. Copper concentrations in intestine/liver were correlated linearly with influx rate, but appeared to be less influenced by uptake pathway (waterborne or dietary exposure). Influx rate best predicted Cu accumulation in the intestine and liver. However, despite being a good predictor of mortality within each pathway, influx rate was not a good predictor of mortality across both exposure pathways, as waterborne Cu caused considerably higher mortality than dietary Cu at a given influx rate. We show that the use of gill Cu accumulation irrespective of the exposure route as a model for observed fish mortality provided a clear relationship between accumulation and toxicity. Investigation of gill Cu accumulation may shed light on the different accumulation strategies from the two exposure pathways. This correlation offers potential for the use of branchial Cu concentration as an indicator of long-term Cu toxicity, allowing for differences in the relative importance of the uptake pathways in different field situations. © 2012 American Chemical Society.