, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 2056-2068
Date: 11 Aug 2011

Sensitivity of spore germination and germ tube elongation of Saccharina japonica to metal exposure

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The sensitivity of early life stages of the brown seaweed Saccharina japonica to six metals (Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Zn) and two waste-water samples were investigated and a new toxicity bioassay developed. The two endpoints used were spore germination and germ tube elongation with an exposure time of 24 h. Optimal test conditions determined for photon irradiance, pH, salinity and temperature were darkness, pH 8, 35‰ and 15°C, respectively. The toxicity ranking of five metals was: Hg (EC50 of 41 and 42 μg l−1) > Cu (120 and 81 μg l−1) > Ni (2,009 and 1,360 μg l−1) > Zn (3,024 and 3,897 μg l−1) > Pb (4,760 and 4,429 μg l−1) > Cd (15,052 and 7,541 μg l−1) for germination and germ tube elongation, respectively. The sensitivities to Cd, Cu and Ni were greater in germ tube elongation than in germination process. When tested against two different waste-water samples (processed animal and printed circuit board waste-water) values of EC50 were between 21.29 and 32.02% for germination and between 5.33 and 8.98% for germ tube elongation. Despite differences in their chemical composition, the toxic effects of waste-water samples, as indicated by EC50 values, did not differ significantly for the same endpoints. The CV range for both germination and germ tube elongation was between 4.61 and 37.69%, indicating high levels of precision of the tests. The results compare favourably with those from more established test procedures employing micro- and macroalgae. The advantages and potential limitations of the bioassay for the assessment of anthropogenic impacts on coastal ecosystems and commercial cultivation areas in near-shore environments are discussed.