, Volume 463, Issue 1, pp 171-184

First online:

Tubifex tubifex as a link in food chain transfer of hexachlorobenzene from contaminated sediment to fish

  • Philipp EgelerAffiliated withECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH
  • , Michael MellerAffiliated withECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH
  • , Joerg RoembkeAffiliated withECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH
  • , Peter SpoerleinAffiliated withECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH
  • , Bruno StreitAffiliated withJohann-Wolfgang-Goethe-University
  • , Roland NagelAffiliated withDresden University of Technology

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Sediments contaminated with poorly water-soluble organic chemicals pose a risk to aquatic food chains. Sediment-associated chemicals can be accumulated by endobenthic, sediment-ingesting invertebrates. Some tubificid species – or other benthic annelids – serve as food for benthivorous fish, which thereby ingest the sediment-borne chemicals and may accumulate contaminant concentrations far higher than from water exposure only, and transfer them to organisms of higher trophic levels. For measurement of biomagnification, a sediment based food chain was developed and established in the laboratory. The two-step food chain included the sediment-dwelling freshwater oligochaete Tubifex tubifex (Müller) as a representative species of benthic infauna. The three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus, Linné), a small teleost fish which often feeds primarily on benthic invertebrates, served as a model predator. Spiked artificial sediment and reconstituted water as the overlying medium were used. Experiments were performed using 14C-labelled hexachlorobenzene, a hydrophobic pollutant as a model compound. To examine the influence of benthic prey on the bioaccumulation of the test substance in the predator, fish were exposed to spiked water, spiked sediment, pre-contaminated prey organisms, or combinations of these exposure routes. The results of these experiments indicate that for hexachlorobenzene, the presence of contaminated Tubifex tubifex as a food source in combined exposure leads to significantly higher accumulation in fish than exposure to single pathways.

tubificids sediment bioaccumulation food chain hexachlorobenzene