Time changes in biomarker responses in two species of oyster transplanted into a metal contaminated estuary

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)281-290
Journal / PublicationScience of the Total Environment
Online published3 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


The Jiulong Estuary in Southern China suffers from serious metal pollution, leading to the appearance of 'colored' oysters in this estuary. In this study, two species of oysters Crassostrea hongkongensis and Crassostrea angulata were transplanted to three sites in the Jiulong Estuary over a two-month period. The time-series changes of various biomarkers were measured, coupled with simultaneous quantification of metal bioaccumulation (Ag, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni and Zn). Cu and Zn accumulation increased linearly and reached up to 2% and 1.5% dry tissue weight by the end of exposure. Negative correlations between the tissue Cu or Zn accumulation and catalase or superoxide dismutase activities strongly indicated that Cu and Zn in 'colored' oysters induced the adjustments of oyster antioxidant systems. Metallothionein (MT) detoxification was insufficient for sequestering all the absorbed metals and its concentrations in the oysters were suppressed following an initial increase, primarily due to the high metal accumulation in the tissues. Interestingly, gradual recoveries of lysosomal membrane stability after the initial strong inhibitions were observed in both oysters. We also documented an increasing 'watering' of oyster tissues presumably as a result of rupturing of tissue cells under metal stress. This study demonstrated the complexity of biomarker responses under field condition, therefore the time changes of biomarker responses to metals need to be considered in evaluating the biological impacts of metal pollution on estuarine organisms.

Research Area(s)

  • Biomarkers, Metals, estuarine pollution, Oysters