Bioaccumulation and Dispersion of Uranium by Freshwater Organisms
Uranium is the heaviest naturally occurring element on Earth. Uranium mining may result in ground and surface water contamination with potential bioaccumulation and dispersion by aquatic invertebrates with aerial stages. We investigated the effects of uranium contamination at community level in terms of abundance, richness, the composition of invertebrate communities, and functional traits. We also investigated uranium mobility across aquatic food webs and its transfer to land via the emergence of aquatic insects. We sampled water, sediment, biofilm, macrophytes, aquatic invertebrates, adult insects, and spiders in the riparian zone across sites with a gradient of uranium concentrations in stream water (from 2.1 to 4.7 µg L−1) and sediments (from 10.4 to 41.8 µg g−1). Macroinvertebrate assemblages differed between sites with a higher diversity and predominance of Nemouridae and Baetidae at the reference site and low diversity and predominance of Chironomidae in sites with the highest uranium concentration. Uranium concentrations in producers and consumers increased linearly with uranium concentration in stream water and sediment (p < 0.05). The highest accumulation was found in litter (83.76 ± 5.42 µg g−1) and macrophytes (47.58 ± 6.93 µg g−1) in the most contaminated site. Uranium was highest in scrapers (14.30 ± 0.98 µg g−1), followed by shredders (12.96 ± 0.81 µg g−1) and engulfer predators (7.01 ± 1.3 µg g−1). Uranium in adults of aquatic insects in the riparian zone in all sites ranged from 0.25 to 2.90 µg g−1, whereas in spiders it ranged from 0.96 to 1.73 µg g−1, with no differences between sites (p > 0.05). There was a negative relationship between δ15N and uranium, suggesting there is no biomagnification along food webs. We concluded that uranium is accumulated by producers and consumers but not biomagnified nor dispersed to land with the emergence of aquatic insects.
The authors thank Olimpia Sobral for field assistance and Luis Crespo for spider identification. This study was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the strategic Project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE. Melissa Bergmann was supported by the National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) (GDE 206450/2014-1).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Bergmann M, Sobral O, Graça MAS (in press) Activities of oxidative stress- and cell membrane-related enzymes in a freshwater leaf-shredder exposed to uranium. LimneticaGoogle Scholar
- Cid N, Ibáñez C, Palanques A, Prat N (2010) Patterns of metal bioaccumulation in two filter-feeding macroinvertebrates: exposure distribution, inter-species differences and variability across developmental stages. Sci Total Environ 408:2795–2806. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.03.030 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cole GA, Weihe PE (2016) Textbook of limnology, 5th edn. Waveland Press, Long GroveGoogle Scholar
- INERIS (2008) Toxicological and environmental data sheets of chemicals. Inst Natl lénvironnement Ind. des risques. https://substances.ineris.fr/fr/substance/1887/3. Accessed 15 Apr 2018
- Krawczyk-Bärsch E, Lünsdorf H, Pedersen K, Arnold T, Bok F, Steudtner R, Lehtinen A, Brendler V (2012) Immobilization of uranium in biofilm microorganisms exposed to groundwater seeps over granitic rock tunnel walls in Olkiluoto, Finland. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 96:94–104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2012.08.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Li A, Zhou C, Liu Z, Xu X, Zhou Y, Zhou D, Tang Y, Ma F, Rittmann BE (2018a) Direct solid-state evidence of H2-induced partial U(VI) reduction concomitant with adsorption by extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Biotechnol Bioeng 115:1685–1693. https://doi.org/10.1002/bit.26592 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Nentwig W, Blick T, Gloor D, Hanggi A, Christian K (2019) Araneae—spiders of Europe. http://www.araneae.unibe.ch/. Accessed 19 Jan 2019
- O’Quinn GN (2005) Using terrestrial arthropods as receptor species to determine trophic transfer of heavy metals in a riparian ecosystem. Dissertation. University of GeorgiaGoogle Scholar
- Simon O, Floriani M, Camilleri V, Gilbin R, Frelon S (2013) Relative importance of direct and trophic uranium exposures in the crayfish Orconectes limosus: implication for predicting uranium bioaccumulation and its associated toxicity. Environ Toxicol Chem 32:410–416. https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.2068 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Solà C, Burgos M, Plazuelo Á, Toja J, Plans M, Prat N (2004) Heavy metal bioaccumulation and macroinvertebrate community changes in a Mediterranean stream affected by acid mine drainage and an accidental spill (Guadiamar River, SW Spain). Sci Total Environ 333:109–126. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.05.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tachet H, Richoux P, Bournaud M, Usseglio-Polatera P (2000) Invertébrés D’ Eau Douce: systematique, biologie, écologie. CNRS Editions, ParisGoogle Scholar
- Van Loon Jon C, Barefoot RR (1989) Analytical methods for geochemical exploration. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
- Wesner JS, Walters DM, Schmidt TS, Kraus JM, Stricker CA, Clements WH, Wolf RE (2017) Metamorphosis affects metal concentrations and isotopic signatures in a mayfly (Baetis tricaudatus): implications for the aquatic-terrestrial transfer of metals. Environ Sci Technol 51(4):2438–2446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wilczek G, Babczyńska A (2000) Heavy metals in the gonads and hepatopancreas of spiders (Araneae) from variously polluted areas. In: Gajdoš P, Pekár S (eds) Proceedings of the 18th European colloquium of arachnology. Ekológia (Bratislava), vol 19, Supplement 3, pp 283–292Google Scholar
- Wood PJ, Hannah DM, Sadler JP (eds) (2007) Hydroecology and ecohydrology: past, present and future. Wiley, West SussexGoogle Scholar