Fertilization and larval development in sea urchins following exposure of gametes and embryos to cadmium

  • Giovanni Pagano
  • Agostino Esposito
  • Giovan Giacomo Giordano


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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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Pagano
    • 1
    • 2
  • Agostino Esposito
    • 1
    • 2
  • Giovan Giacomo Giordano
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto per lo Studio e la Cura dei TumoriFondazione “Sen. Pascale”NapoliItaly
  2. 2.Stazione ZoologicaNaplesItaly

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