Marine Biology

, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 533–540 | Cite as

Histochemical demonstration of mercury in the intestine, nephridia and epidermis of the marine polychaete Nereis virens exposed to inorganic mercury

  • P. K. Jensen
  • E. Baatrup


Marine polychaetes Nereis virens (Sars) were exposed to 9 ppb Hg as mercuric chloride in the aquarium water. Concentrations of mercury in the water and in the worms were monitored using radiolabelled mercury. After 11 d, the average mercury concentration in the nereids was 8.41 ppm Hg and the bioconcentration factor was calculated to be 930. Accumulations of mercury in the tissues were made visible for light and electron microscopy by autometallographic silver enhancement. Mercury was demonstrated in the intestine, nephridia, epidermis and cuticula. In the intestine, mercury was found to be located predominantly in the apical part of the epithelial cells. In the nephridia, mercury deposits were apparent in the peritoneal cells of the nephridial tubules. Silver-enhanced mercury was also observed at the epicuticula, in the collagen fibres of the endocuticula and in the epidermal basal cells. Intracellularly, the observed mercury accumulations were localised predominantly in lysosomes. Extracellularly, mercury was observed in the basal laminae of the intestine and the epidermis, and also in the intestinal peritrophic membrane. How N. virens copes with mercury toxicity is discussed.


Mercury Polychaete Basal Lamina Mercury Concentration Mercuric Chloride 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. K. Jensen
    • 1
  • E. Baatrup
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Zoology and ZoophysiologyUniversity of AarhusAarhus CDenmark
  2. 2.Institute of Anatomy B, NeurobiologyUniversity of AarhusAarhus CDenmark

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