, Volume 253, Issue 1, pp 111–125 | Cite as

Effects of copper and lead exposure on the ecophysiology of the brown seaweed Sargassum cymosum

  • Giulia Burle Costa
  • Marthiellen R. L. de Felix
  • Carmen Simioni
  • Fernanda Ramlov
  • Eva Regina Oliveira
  • Débora T. Pereira
  • Marcelo Maraschin
  • Fungyi Chow
  • Paulo Antunes Horta
  • Cristina Moreira Lalau
  • Cristina H. da Costa
  • William Gerson Matias
  • Zenilda L. Bouzon
  • Éder C. Schmidt
Original Article


The effects of the heavy metals copper (Cu) and lead (Pb) on Sargassum cymosum were evaluated by determining uptake capacity, growth rates, photosynthetic efficiency, contents of photosynthetic pigments and phenolic compounds, 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical-scavenging capacity, and morphological and cellular changes. S. cymosum was cultivated with Cu and Pb separately and combined at concentrations of 10, 25, and 50 μM for 7 days in laboratory-controlled conditions. Seaweeds under Cu treatment showed the highest biosorption capacity, and growth rates were significantly reduced compared to the control. The photosynthesis/irradiance curves showed alterations in kinetic patterns in the metal-treated samples. Specifically, Cu treatment alone inhibited electron transport rate (ETR) response, while Pb alone induced it. However, samples treated with both Cu and Pb (Cu + Pb) showed inhibition in ETR. The total amount of pigments increased relative to control. Light microscopy showed an increase in phenolic compounds, with physodes migrating towards cortical cells. Scanning electronic microscopy revealed alterations in the typical rough surface of thallus, when compared with control, especially for Pb treatments. Based on these results, it could be concluded that Cu and Pb are stress factors for S. cymosum, promoting alterations in seaweed metabolism and stimulating protective mechanisms against oxidative stress. However, the high bioaccumulation capacity of both heavy metals indicates a possible application for S. cymosum as a biosorbent agent for contaminated wastewater when metals are in low concentrations.


Sargassum cymosum Ecophysiology Biosorption Metal uptake Photosynthetic efficiency Cellular structure 



The authors would like to acknowledge the staff of the Central Laboratory of Electron Microscopy (LCME), Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, for the use of their scanning electron microscopy. Éder C. Schmidt holds a postdoctoral fellowship from CAPES. Giulia B. Costa holds a Master’s degree fellowship from CAPES. Zenilda L. Bouzon is a CNPq fellow. Fungyi Chow is a FAPESP fellow. This study is part of the MSc dissertation of the first author.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulia Burle Costa
    • 1
  • Marthiellen R. L. de Felix
    • 1
  • Carmen Simioni
    • 1
  • Fernanda Ramlov
    • 3
  • Eva Regina Oliveira
    • 3
  • Débora T. Pereira
    • 2
  • Marcelo Maraschin
    • 3
  • Fungyi Chow
    • 4
  • Paulo Antunes Horta
    • 5
  • Cristina Moreira Lalau
    • 6
  • Cristina H. da Costa
    • 6
  • William Gerson Matias
    • 6
  • Zenilda L. Bouzon
    • 1
  • Éder C. Schmidt
    • 7
  1. 1.Plant Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Cell Biology, Embryology and GeneticsFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Scientific Initiation-PIBIC-CNPq, Department of Cell Biology, Embryology and GeneticsFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  3. 3.Plant Morphogenesis and Biochemistry LaboratoryFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  4. 4.Institute of BioscienceUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  5. 5.Phycology Laboratory, Department of BotanyFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  6. 6.Postgraduate Program in Environmental Engineering, Department of Environmental and Sanitary EngineeringFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  7. 7.Postgraduate Program in Cell Biology and Development, Department of Cell Biology, Embryology and GeneticsFederal University of Santa CatarinaFlorianopolisBrazil

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