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Mercury accumulation from food decreases collembolans' growth

Cardoso, Diogo N., Ferreira, Nuno G.C., Tourinho, Paula S., Santos, Cátia, Soares, Amadeu M.V.M., Loureiro, Susana
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.668 pp. 25-31
Folsomia candida, bioaccumulation, ecosystems, energy, food choices, food contamination, growth curves, invertebrates, mercury, protocols, reproduction, soil
In the terrestrial environment, mercury (Hg) contamination can be originated from different inorganic and metal-organic sources, redistributed and transformed in soils. In the present study, the effects of contaminated food with environmentally relevant concentrations of Hg were evaluated in the soil-dwelling invertebrate Folsomia candida. Changes in growth rate and Hg bioaccumulation levels were observed at different concentrations of Hg in food, which can be complementary for data already available for reproduction and survival from standardized protocols. Collembolan growth was recorded every two days, and their growth rate along with a Von Bertalanffy's growth curve were derived showing that growth was dependent on Hg food concentration. Also, the final length of animals reflected the Hg concentration in food, with differences in all treatments comparing to non-exposed organisms. Toxicokinetic patterns from different Hg concentrations in food were not significantly different during the uptake phase, but differences were found in the depuration phase. Combining the two approaches, collembolans seem to invest their energy for depuration processes, neglecting other vital processes, such as growth. Also, contaminated food avoidance possibly occurred, thus decreasing their feeding and contaminant intake. Therefore, growth tests in collembolans can act as complementary tools to bioaccumulation and reproductive assays, towards a mechanistic understanding of how organisms use their energy upon contamination. Changes in growth rate, even at low and environmentally relevant concentrations, could be a warning signal when occurring in species with key roles in ecosystems. Also, this study highlights the importance of these complementary tests for a better and complete approach to risk assessment studies.