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Interactions of algal ligands, metal complexation and availability, and cell responses of the diatom Ditylum brightwellii with a gradual increase in copper
Rijstenbil, J.W.; Gerringa, L.J.A. (2002). Interactions of algal ligands, metal complexation and availability, and cell responses of the diatom Ditylum brightwellii with a gradual increase in copper. Aquat. Toxicol. 56(2): 115-131.
In: Aquatic Toxicology. Elsevier Science: Tokyo; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0166-445X; e-ISSN 1879-1514, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Algae > Diatoms
    Binding site
    Chemical elements > Metals > Transition elements > Heavy metals > Copper
    Chemical speciation
    Ditylum brightwellii (T.West) Grunow, 1885 [WoRMS]

Authors  Top 
  • Rijstenbil, J.W., correspondent, more
  • Gerringa, L.J.A., more

    A continuous culture experiment was conducted to study interactions between copper-binding ligands released by light-limited Ditylum brightwellii, and toxic effects of Cu on this diatom. Over 6 months, the Cu concentration in the medium has been increased in seven steps (3-173 nM). At each Cu addition, Cu speciation, characteristics of Cu sorption to cellular binding sites, and cell characteristics were determined. Physiological effects of Cu were studied, using indicators for metal detoxification (thiols) and lipid peroxidation (malondialdehyde). Minor amounts of Cu (< 1.4%) were chelated by a minimum amount of EDTA (57 nM), required to maintain a stable long-term continuous culture. The responses ofD. brightwellii to Cu were monitored. (1) From 3 to 47 nM added Cu, decreasing pools of glutathione, increasing malondialdehyde contents, an increased release of lipophilic ligands, and cell lysis indicated the enhancement of lipid peroxidation. (2) From 47 to 94 nM Cu, a 16-fold increase in high-affinity (strong) hydrophilic ligands was measured (conditional stability constants K' = 1012) that complexed most Cu (maximum 97%); sexual reproduction was stimulated and cell volumes increased. (3) From 126 nM Cu, glutathione pools increased again, whereas cell division rates decreased slightly. (4) At 142 nM Cu, the number of lysed cells reached a maximum, as did the production of lipophilic compounds that complexed ~ 2% Cu. As the binding sites of the strong ligands became Cu-saturated above 142 nM Cu, larger amounts of Cu were bound to low-affinity (weak) dissolved ligands (3-30%) and cellular binding sites (0.2-2.5%). Probably due to saturation of organic complexes at 142 nM Cu, the MINEQL-calculated Cu2+ concentrations increased markedly; pCu values decreased from > 11 to ~ 10; division rates were further inhibited; y-glutamylcysteine (phytochelatin precursor) was produced. (5) At 157 nM Cu, phytochelatin synthesis started, and Cu-sorption capacities (cell walls and internal binding sites) increased. (6) At 173 nM Cu, the phytochelatin pool sizes and the number of cellular Cu-binding sites increased further. These results suggest that ligands released by a dense bloom of D. brightwellii, either by active excretion or lysis, would have lower affinities for Cu (K' = 109-1012) and moderate the availability of Cu less effectively than ligands in natural environments (1013-1014). In this diatom, the concurring release of ligands, enhanced malondialdehyde production, increasing numbers of presexual cells and cell enlargement may serve as early-warning signals for Cu toxicity, rather than metal-specific phytochelatins that appeared at a stage when cell division was already clearly inhibited.

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