Bioaccumulation of inorganic and organic mercury in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis: influence of ocean acidification and food type

The bioaccumulation of mercury (Hg) in marine organisms through various pathways has not yet been fully explored, particularly in cephalopods. This study utilises radiotracer techniques using the isotope 203Hg to investigate the toxicokinetics and the organotropism of waterborne inorganic Hg (iHg) and dietary inorganic and organic Hg (methylHg, MeHg) in juvenile common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. The effect of two contrasting CO2 partial pressures in seawater (400 and 1600 μatm, equivalent to pH 8.08 and 7.54 respectively) and two types of prey (fish and shrimp) were tested as potential driving factors of Hg bioaccumulation. After 14 days of waterborne exposure, juvenile cuttlefish showed a stable concentration factor of 709 ± 54 and 893 ± 117 at pH 8.08 and 7.54, respectively. The accumulated dissolved i203Hg was depurated relatively rapidly with a radiotracer biological half-life (Tb1/2) of 44 ± 12 and 55 ± 16 days at pH 8.08 and 7.54, respectively. During the whole exposure period, approximately half of the i203Hg was found in the gills, but i203Hg also increased in the digestive gland. When fed with 203Hg-radiolabelled prey, cuttlefish assimilated almost all the Hg provided (>95%) independently of the prey type. Nevertheless, the prey type played a major role on the depuration kinetics with Hg Tb1/2 approaching infinity in fish fed cuttlefish vs. 25 days in shrimp fed cuttlefish. Such a difference is explained by the different proportion of Hg species in the prey, with fish prey containing more than 80% of MeHg vs. only 30% in shrimp. Four days after ingestion of radiolabelled food, iHg was primarily found in the digestive organs while MeHg was transferred towards the muscular tissues. No significant effect of pH/pCO2 variation was observed during both the waterborne and dietary exposures on the bioaccumulation kinetics and tissue distribution of i203Hg and Me203Hg. Dietary exposure is the predominant pathway of Hg bioaccumulation in juvenile cuttlefish.

Minet A., Metian M., Taylor A., Gentès S., Azemard S., Oberhänsli F., Swarzenski P., Bustamante P. & Lacoue-Labarthe T., 2022. Bioaccumulation of inorganic and organic mercury in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis: influence of ocean acidification and food type. Environmental Research: 114201. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.114201. Article (subscription required).

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