Heavy metal contamination and metallothionein mRNA in blood and feathers of Black-tailed gulls (Larus crassirostris) from South Korea
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The objectives of this study were to determine levels of heavy metal in the feathers and blood of Black-tailed gulls (Larus crassirostris), to evaluate metallothionein (MT) mRNA level in Black-tailed gulls on three independent islets, and to examine the correlation between heavy metal concentrations and MT mRNA expression. Eleven heavy metals (Al, Cd, Mn, Pb, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, Se, Hg, and As) were investigated in blood and feathers of 65 chicks from breeding colonies (Seomando, Hongdo, and Dokdo islet) of South Korea in 2010. Heavy metals were assayed by PerkinElmer NexION 300 inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The mean concentrations of non-essential heavy metals were found to blood containing Cd (0.002 ~ 0.02 ppm), Pb (0.06 ~ 0.18) ppm, Hg (0.03 ~ 0.05) ppm, and As (0.26 ~ 0.48 ppm), and feather containing Cd (0.05 ~ 0.30 ppm), Pb (2.47 ~ 10.80 ppm), Hg (1.18 ~ 1.57 ppm), and As (0.15 ~ 0.44 ppm). Chicks on Seomando islet showed the highest levels of metals (Cd, Pb, Mn, Cr, Cu, and Se in blood; Al, As, Mn, Cr, Fe, Cu, and Se in feathers) among the colonies. Concentrations of Pb and Hg in feathers were the highest on Hongdo, and the levels of Cd and Zn in feathers were the highest on Dokdo islet. MT mRNA in the blood of Black-tailed gulls was relatively higher in gulls from Seomando than in gulls from Hongdo and Dokdo islet. MT mRNA level is thus positively correlated to heavy metal concentrations in Black-tailed gulls.