Reproductive impairment of sea urchin upon chronic exposure to cadmium. Part II : Effects on sperm development

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


Chronic pollution may impair the reproductive success of adult organisms through a decrease in the quality of gametes. Our parallel study on gamete quality, showed that male sea urchins were more sensitive than the females towards cadmium pollution. The effects of chronic exposure to 0.01 and 1 ppm Cd2+ on sperm development of the sea urchin Anthocidaris crassispina were studied. Despite the fact that no significant change in gonad index was observed when sea urchins were exposed to both levels of Cd2+ for 4 weeks, deposition of electron-dense materials was conspicuous at the wall and intracellular space of male gonads. Apparent cytological alterations were observed in sperm cells, including changes in morphology of nuage in spermatogonia. The discrete, granular bodies of nuage were replaced by a large electron-dense body. Spermatozoa with short, incomplete 'broken' tails (scanning electron microscope observation) or tails of spermatids/spermatozoa with extraordinary electron-density (transmission electron microscope observation) were more abundant in gonads exposed to both levels of Cd2+. Mitochondrial cristae deformation was observed for sperm cells at all stages of development. Sperm plasma membrane also became more convoluted but acrosome remained intact. The observed cytological distortion of sperm tails and mitochondria/midpiece could help to explain the decline in motility as well as poor perseverance in sperm produced by sea urchins exposed to cadmium observed in our earlier study. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Research Area(s)

  • Echinoids, Mitochondrial dis-organization, Nuage, Spermatogenesis, Tail defects