Gut contents: A significant contaminant of Mytilus edulis whole body metal concentrations

  • William E. Robinson
  • David K. Ryan
  • Gordon T. Wallace


Ingested matter can have a significant effect on whole body metal concentration measurements in Mytilus edulis. Depuration of mussels in clean seawater for 36 h prior to dissection eliminates most of these contaminating gut contents. Depuration followed by metal analyses is the most direct method of determining mussel tissue metal bioburdens. After being transplanted into a plume of primary treated sewage effluent in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts for 32 days, Al, Cr, and Fe concentrations in depurated mussels were significantly lower than those determined for either non-depurated mussels or for depurated mussels to which fecal concentrations of Al, Cr, and Fe were added back in. Although mathematical methods developed by both Ouellette (1978) and Boehm et al. (1988) could be applied to non-depurated mussels in order to correct for errors associated with gut metal contamination, these indirect methods were not as reliable as depuration prior to analysis.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bayne BL, Hawkins AJS, Navarro E (1987) Feeding and digestion by the mussel Mytilus edulis L. (Bivalvia: Mollusca) in mixtures of silt and algal cells at low concentrations. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 111:1–22Google Scholar
  2. Boehm PD, Freitas S, Trefry J, Crecelius E, Hillman R, Costa H, Truckfield RC, Peven C, Brown J, Steinhauer W, Young N, Altshul L, Payne J, Farmer G, McNabb D, Lissner A, Sims R, Clayton J, Fogg T, Shokes R (1988) Phase 2 final report on National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program. Collection of bivalves and surficial sediments from coastal U.S. Atlantic and Pacific locations and analysis for organic chemicals and trace elements. Battelle Ocean Sciences, Duxbury, MA, 332 ppGoogle Scholar
  3. Bricelj VM, Malouf RE (1984) Influence of algal and suspended sediment concentrations on the feeding physiology of the hard clam. Mar Biol 84:155–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brooks RR, Rumsby MG (1967) Studies on the uptake of cadmium by the oyster, Ostrea sinuata (Lamarck). Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 15:53–61Google Scholar
  5. Flegal AR, Martin JH (1977) Contamination of biological samples by ingested material. Mar Pollut Bull 8:90–92Google Scholar
  6. Gordon M, Knauer GA, Martin JH (1980) Mytilus californianus as a bioindicator of trace metal pollution: Variability and statistical considerations. Mar Pollut Bull 11:195–198Google Scholar
  7. Hawkins AJS, Navarro E, Iglesias JIP (1990) Comparative allometries of gut-passage time, gut content and metabolic faecal loss in Mytilus edulis and Cerastoderma edule. Mar Biol 105:197–204Google Scholar
  8. LaTouche YD, Mix MC (1982) The effects of depuration, size and sex on trace metal levels in bay mussels. Mar Pollut Bull 13:27–29Google Scholar
  9. Lobel PB, Belkhode SP, Jackson SE, Longerich HP (1989) A universal method for quantifying and comparing the residual variability of element concentrations in biological tissues using 25 elements in the mussel Mytilus edulis as a model. Mar Biol 102:513–518Google Scholar
  10. —, —, —, — (1991) Sediment in tract: A potentially serious source of error in aquatic biological monitoring programs. Mar Environ Res 31:163–174Google Scholar
  11. McLusky DS (1973) The effect of temperature on the oxygen consumption and filtration rate of Chlamys (Aequipecten) opercularis (L.) (Bivalvia). Ophelia 10:141–154Google Scholar
  12. Ouellette TR (1978) Seasonal variation of trace metals and the major inorganic ions in Mytilus californianus. M.A. thesis, California State University, Hayward, 79 ppGoogle Scholar
  13. Schulte EH (1975) Influence of algal concentration and temperature on the filtration rate of Mytilus edulis. Mar Biol 30:331–341Google Scholar
  14. Stephenson MD, Martin JH, Martin M (1978) State mussel watch, 1978 annual report. Trace metal concentrations in the California mussel at areas of special biological significance. Moss Landing Marine Lab, Moss Landing, CAGoogle Scholar
  15. Sverdrup HU, Johnson MW, Fleming RH (1942) The oceans. Their physics, chemistry, and general biology. Prentice-Hall, NY, 1086 ppGoogle Scholar
  16. Taylor SR (1964) Abundance of chemical elements in the continental crust: A new table. Geochem Cosmochim Acta 28:1273–1286Google Scholar
  17. Thomson JD (1983) Short-term changes in metal concentration in the cultivated Pacific oyster, Crossostrea gigas Thunberg, and the implications for food standards. Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 34:394–405Google Scholar
  18. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1979) Methods for chemical analysis of water and wastes. EPA Technical Memorandum EPA-600/4–79–020, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  19. Wallace GT, Dudek N, Dulmage R, Mahoney O (1983) Trace element distribution in the Gulf Stream adjacent to the southeastern Atlantic continental shelf—influence of atmospheric and shelf water inputs. J Fish Aquat Sci 40 (Suppl 2):183–191Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. Robinson
    • 1
  • David K. Ryan
    • 2
  • Gordon T. Wallace
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Sciences ProgramUniversity of Massachusetts—BostonBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of Massachusetts—LowellLowellUSA

Personalised recommendations