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Thiols in Scenedesmus vacuolatus upon exposure to metals and metalloids

Le Faucheur, S., Schildknecht, F., Behra, R., Sigg, L.
Aquatic toxicology 2006 v.80 no.4 pp. 355-361
water pollution, heavy metals, copper, zinc, nickel, lead, silver, arsenic, antimony, phytochelatins, thiols, glutathione, Scenedesmus, Algae
Phytochelatins are intracellular metal ligands produced by algae when exposed to elevated metal concentrations. In freshwater ecosystems, algae are exposed to a wide range of metals and metalloids. The aim of this study was thus to investigate phytochelatin induction in freshwater algae upon metal and metalloid exposure. To that purpose, the unicellular green alga Scenedesmus vacuolatus, was exposed to Cu, Zn, Ni, Pb and Ag, as well as to As(III), As(V), Sb(III) and Sb(V), and examined for its thiol content (gamma-glutamylcysteine, glutathione and phytochelatins). Glutathione content was found to decrease upon the exposure to Zn and to increase upon the exposure to Pb and Ag. Phytochelatins were only induced by Cu (at [Cu2+] = 8 x 10(-11) M) and Pb (at [Pb2+] = 8 x 10(-11) to 8 x 10(-10) M), where [Cu2+] and [Pb2+] are computed free metal ion concentrations. Glutathione content also decreased upon the exposure to Sb(V) whereas an increase was observed as a result as the exposure to As(III) and As(V). The metalloids As(III), As(V) and Sb(III) in the concentration range from 8 x 10(-6) to 2 x 10(-4) M (total concentrations of oxyanions) were inducing phytochelatins. Glutathione and phytochelatin content in S. vacuolatus do thus sensitively respond to exposure to a number of metals and metalloids.