Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 54, Issue 10, pp 931–938 | Cite as

Characteristics of the phytoplankton community and bioaccumulation of heavy metals during algal blooms in Xiangjiang River (Hunan, China)

  • Jie Li
  • FuLi Peng
  • DongBo Ding
  • ShuBing Zhang
  • DeLiang Li
  • Zhang Ting
Open Access
Research Papers


The frequency of algal blooms has increased in the mid and downstream reaches of the Xiangjiang River (Hunan, China), one of the most heavily polluted rivers in China. We identified the bloom-forming species in a bloom that occurred mid-late September 2010. In addition, we determined the extent of metal bioaccumulation in the algae and measured the toxicity of the algae using a mouse bioassay. Water samples were collected at upstream (Yongzhou), midstream (Hengyang), and downstream (Zhuzhou, Xiangtan, and Changsha) sites. The dominant species was Aulacoseira granulata, formerly known as Melosira granulata. The heaviest bloom occurred at Xiangtan and Changsha, where the number of A. granulata peaked at 1.3×105 filaments L−1 and chlorophyll a at 0.04 mg L−1. Concentrations of Al, Fe, and Mn were 4.4×103, 768.4, and 138.7 mg kg−1 dry weight in the phytoplankton. The bioaccumulation factor was 4.0×105, 7.7×105, and 3.2×103, respectively. The heavy metal Pb had the greatest tendency to bioaccumulate among the highly toxic heavy metals, with a concentration of 19.2 mg kg−1 dry weight and bioaccumulation factor of 9.6×103. The mouse bioassay suggested the bloom was toxic. The LD50 was 384 mg kg−1 and all surviving mice lost weight during the first 72 h after exposure. Our results demonstrate that blooms of A. granulata in rivers contaminated with heavy metals pose a threat to freshwater ecosystems and human health. Thus, measures should be taken to control eutrophication and heavy metal pollution in such rivers.


Aulacoseira granulata bioaccumulation diatom bloom heavy metal Xiangjiang River 


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© The Author(s) 2011

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jie Li
    • 1
  • FuLi Peng
    • 2
  • DongBo Ding
    • 1
  • ShuBing Zhang
    • 1
  • DeLiang Li
    • 3
  • Zhang Ting
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological Science and TechnologyCentral South UniversityChangshaChina
  2. 2.Department of EcologyChina National Environmental Monitoring CentreBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Animal Science and TechnologyHunan Agriculture UniversityChangshaChina

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