Date: 21 May 2011

Hormesis Associated with a Low Dose of Methylmercury Injected into Mallard Eggs

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Abstract

We injected mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) eggs with methylmercury chloride at doses of 0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, 1.6, 3.2, and 6.4 μg mercury/g egg contents on a wet-weight basis. A case of hormesis seemed to occur because hatching success of eggs injected with 0.05 μg/g mercury (the lowest dose) was significantly greater (93.3%) than that of controls (72.6%), whereas hatching success decreased at progressively greater doses of mercury. Our finding of hormesis when a low dose of methylmercury was injected into eggs agrees with a similar observation in a study in which a group of female mallards was fed a low dietary concentration of methylmercury and hatching of their eggs was significantly better than that of controls. If methylmercury has a hormetic effect at low concentrations in avian eggs, these low concentrations may be important in a regulatory sense in that they may represent a no-observed adverse effect level (NOAEL).