Fertilization and larval development in sea urchins following exposure of gametes and embryos to cadmium
The gametes and embryos of three sea urchin species were exposed to cadmium chloride at concentrations ranging from 10−8 M to 10−3 M. When zygotes were reared in the presence of Cd2+, skeletal differentiation displayed some severe abnormalities or was suppressed, as a function of Cd2+ level. The embryotoxic action of Cd2+ was inversely related to salinity and to Ca2+ concentration. Cadmium-exposed larvae displayed similar abnormalities if Cd2+ was present throughout development or only after hatching, while pre-hatching exposure produced no developmental defects. No aberrations in mitotic figures were observed in cleaving eggs following acute exposure to Cd2+. The pretreatment of sperm or eggs did not affect the ensuing development of embryos, both for acutely toxic Cd2+ levels (up to 10−2M), and for prolonged exposures in relatively low Cd2+ levels. The fertilization rate was differently affected depending on whether sperm or eggs were pretreated;i.e., the exposure of eggs to Cd2+ promoted fertilization at relatively high Cd2+ levels. If sperm was exposed to Cd2+, a depression of fertilizing capacity was observed at high Cd2+ levels, while lower Cd2+ levels, displayed an opposite action, resulting in an increase in fertilization rate after prolonged sperm exposure.
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