, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 591-600

Inter-population comparisons of copper resistance and accumulation in the red seaweed, Gracilariopsis longissima

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Abstract

Copper (Cu) resistance and accumulation of five populations of the red seaweed Gracilariopsis longissima collected from sites in south west England (Fal Estuary, Helford Estuary and Chesil Fleet) that differ in their degree of Cu contamination was assessed under controlled laboratory conditions, on two separate occasions (April and October). The effects of a range of Cu concentrations (0–250 μg l−1) on relative growth rates was the same for all populations with reductions observable at concentrations as low as 12 μg l−1 and cessation of growth at 250 μg l−1. There was no significant difference in the calculated EC50 values for the April and October samples, with means of 31.1 and 25.8 μg l−1, respectively. Over the range of concentrations used in this study, copper content increased linearly and the pattern of accumulation was the same for all populations at both time periods. From the linear regressions of the pooled data a concentration factor of 2.25 × 103 was calculated. These results imply that G. longissima has an innate tolerance to Cu and that populations have not evolved copper-tolerant ecotypes. In laboratory studies, accumulated Cu was released when transferred to ‘clean’ seawater with approximately 80% being lost after 8 days, with no significant difference between populations in their response. The results from a 30 days in situ transplantation experiment using two populations from the Fal Estuary provided further evidence for dynamic changes in Cu content in response to changes in Cu bioavailability. The findings in this study are discussed in the context of implications for seaweed biomonitoring.