Effects of sulfate on selenate uptake and toxicity in the green alga Selenastrum capricornutum

  • M. J. Williams
  • R. S. Ogle
  • A. W. Knight
  • R. G. Burau


Sulfate and selenate compete for active transport across cell membranes via a common permease, suggesting that a significant interaction may exist between uptake of the two ions. The effect of sulfate on selenate uptake and toxicity in Selenastrum capricornutum was investigated using two sulfate levels (3.3 and 33 mg/L S, as SO4) and two selenate levels (10 and 100 μg/L Se, as SeO4). This provided four treatments: one with S:Se molar ratio of 75, two with molar ratios of 750, and one with a molar ratio of 7,500. Selenium uptake and toxicity analyses demonstrated antagonism between the two anions. Increasing sulfate resulted in significantly reduced selenate uptake and increased algal growth. There was a significant difference in selenate uptake between the two treatments with the same S:Se molar ratio suggesting different relative permease affinities for each of the ions at different substrate levels (i.e., above and below permease saturation levels) and/or the presence of two different permease systems. The environmental significance of sulfate and selenate antagonism is discussed.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barnhart RA (1957) Chemical factors affecting the survival of game-fish in a western Colorado reservoir. PhD Diss, Colorado St Univ, Ft Collins, COGoogle Scholar
  2. Besser JM, TJ Canfield, La Point TW (1993) Bioaccumulation of organic and inorganic selenium in a laboratory food chain. Environ Toxicol Chem 12:57–72Google Scholar
  3. Coughlan S (1977) Sulphate uptake in Fucus serratus. J Exp Bot 28:1207–1215Google Scholar
  4. Cumbie PM, VanHorn SL (1978) Selenium accumulation associated with fish mortality and reproductive failure. Proc SE Assoc Fish Wildl Agen 32:612–624Google Scholar
  5. Cutter GA (1978) Species determination of selenium in natural waters. Anal Chim Acta 98:59–66Google Scholar
  6. Deane EM, O'Brien RW (1975) Sulphate uptake and metabolism in the chrysomonad Monochrysis lutheri. Arch Microbiol 105:295–301Google Scholar
  7. Deane EM, O'Brien RW (1981) Uptake of sulphate, taurine, cysteine, and methionine by symbiotic and free-living dinoflagellates. Arch Microbiol 128:311–319Google Scholar
  8. Foe CG, Knight AW (1986) Selenium bioaccumulation, regulation and toxicity in the green alga Selenastrum capricornutum, and the dietary toxicity of the contaminated alga to Daphnia magna. In: Slocum D (ed) Selenium in the environment. California Agricultural Technology Institute, Fresno, CA, pp 77–88Google Scholar
  9. Gillespie R, Baumann P (1986) Effects of high tissue concentrations of selenium on reproduction by bluegill. Trans Am Fish Soc 115:208–213Google Scholar
  10. Heinz GH, Hoffman DJ, Gold LG (1988) Toxicity of organic and inorganic selenium to mallard ducklings. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 17:561–568Google Scholar
  11. Heinz GH, Hoffman DJ, Gold LG (1989) Impaired reproduction of mallards fed an organic form of selenium. J Wildl Manag 53:418–428Google Scholar
  12. Jeanjean R, Broda E (1977) Dependence of sulphate uptake by Anacystis nidulans on energy, on osmotic shock and on sulphate starvation. Arch Microbiol 114:19–23Google Scholar
  13. Kumar HD, Prakash G (1971) Toxicity of selenium to the blue-green algae, Anacystis nidulans and Anabaena variablis. Ann Bot 35:697–705Google Scholar
  14. Kylin A (1967) The uptake and metabolism of sulphate in Scenedesmus as influenced by citrate, carbon dioxide, and metabolic inhibitors. Physiol Plant 20:139–148Google Scholar
  15. Leggett JE, Epstein E (1956) Kinetics of sulfate absorption by barley roots. Plant Physiol 31:222–226Google Scholar
  16. Lemly AD (1985) Toxicology of selenium in a freshwater reservoir: Implications for environmental hazard evaluation and safety. Ecotoxicol Environ Safety 10:314–338Google Scholar
  17. Malchow D (1990) Toxicity and bioaccumulation of dietary selenium to the aquatic larvae of the midge, Chironomus decorus. MS thesis, University of California, Davis, CAGoogle Scholar
  18. Nichols HW (1973) Growth media: Freshwater. In: Stein JR (ed) Handbook of phycological methods, culture methods, and growth measurements. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 7–24Google Scholar
  19. Ogle RS, Knight AW (1994) Bioaccumulation of selenium in aquatic ecosystems. 3. The roles of bioconcentration and biomagnification in the comparative bioaccumulation of selenate and selenite by fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). Manuscript in preparationGoogle Scholar
  20. Ohlendorf HM, Hoffman DJ, Saiki MK, Aldrich TW (1986) Embryonic mortality and abnormalities of aquatic birds: Apparent impacts of selenium from irrigation drain water. Sci Total Environ 52:49–63Google Scholar
  21. Presser TS, Barnes I (1984) Selenium concentrations in waters tributary to and in the vicinity of the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge, Fresno and Merced Counties, California. Water Resources Investigations Report No. 84–4122, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  22. Rybova R, Nespurkova L, Janacek K, Struzinsky R (1982) Sulphate-uptake isotherm of the alga Hydrodictyon reticulatum. Stud Biophys 3:123–126Google Scholar
  23. Sarma YSRK, Jayarman S (1984) Observations on sulphur-selenium antagonism on the growth of two desmids. Acta Bot Indica 12:57–60Google Scholar
  24. Shrift A (1954) Sulfur-selenium antagonism. I. Antimetabolite action of selenate on the growth of Chlorella vulgaris. Am J Bot 41:223–230Google Scholar
  25. Shrift A (1973) Selenium compounds in nature and medicine. E. Metabolism of selenium by plants and microorganisms. In: Klayman DL, Gunther WHH (eds) Organic selenium compounds: Their chemistry and biology. Wiley-Interscience, NY, pp 763–814Google Scholar
  26. Strickland JKH, Parsons TR (1972) A practical handbook of seawater analysis. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottowa, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  27. Sturman BT (1985) Development of a continuous flow hydride and mercury vapor generation accessory for atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Appl Spectrosc 39:48–56Google Scholar
  28. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1975) Methods for acute toxicity testing with fish, macroinvertebrates, and amphibians. EPA-660/3-75-009, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  29. Wetzel RG (1983) Limnology, 2nd ed. Saunders College Publ, Philadelphia, PAGoogle Scholar
  30. Woock SE, Garrett WR, Partin WE, Bryson WT (1987) Decreased survival and teratogenesis during laboratory selenium exposures to bluegill, Lepomis Macrochirus. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 39:998–1005Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Williams
    • 1
  • R. S. Ogle
    • 1
  • A. W. Knight
    • 1
  • R. G. Burau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Land, Air, and Water ResourcesUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations