Seawater acidification aggravated cadmium toxicity in the oyster Crassostrea gigas: Metal bioaccumulation, subcellular distribution and multiple physiological responses

Highlights
• Ocean acidification aggravated the toxicity of environmental relevant concentration of Cd on C. gigas.
• OA exacerbated the oxidative stresses, histopathological damage, and apoptosis of Cd-exposed oysters.
• Apoptosis-pathway was generally stimulated in Cd-OA exposed oysters.
• Increased toxicity perhaps associated with the increased accumulation and altered subcellular distribution of Cd.

Abstract
Mounting evidence has demonstrated the combined effects of ocean acidification (OA) and other environmental stressors on marine organisms. Although metal pollution is widely distributed in coasts and estuaries, the combined effects of OA and metal pollution have received little attention until recent years. In this study, the accumulation and subcellular distribution of cadmium (Cd) and the physiological responses of the oyster Crassostrea gigas were investigated after 31 days of exposure to OA and Cd, either alone or in combination. Increased Cd accumulation was found both in gills (about 57% increase at pH 7.8, 22% increase at pH 7.6) and digestive glands (about 38% increase at pH 7.8, 22% increase at pH 7.6) of C. gigas under elevated pCO2 exposure. Although a similar total Cd accumulation pattern was seen in oyster gills and digestive glands, a higher partition of Cd in the BIM (biologically inactive metal) fractions of gills (about 60%) was found in Cd-exposed treatments compared to the digestive glands (about 45%), which might correspond to the generally lower toxicity in gills. Moreover, synergetic effects of Cd and OA on the oxidative stresses, histopathological damage, and apoptosis of exposed oysters were observed in this study, which might be explained by significant interactions of these two factors on increased generation of ROS. These findings demonstrated that OA could aggravate the toxicity of metals in marine organisms, with significant implications for coastal benthic ecosystems regarding the widespread metal contamination and the concurrent increase of acidified seawater.

Cao R., Liu Y., Wang Q., Dong Z., Yang D., Liu H., Ran W., Qu Y. & Zhao J., 2018. Seawater acidification aggravated cadmium toxicity in the oyster Crassostrea gigas: Metal bioaccumulation, subcellular distribution and multiple physiological responses. Science of The Total Environment 642: 809-823. Article (subscription required).

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