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Bioaccumulation of Total and Methyl Mercury by Arthropods


Three arthropods, Locusta migratoria manilensis, Acrida chinensis, and Paraten-odera sinensis were selected to study the bioaccumulation of total and methyl mercury. Concentrations of total mercury in the tissues of Locusta migratoria manilensis and Acrida chinensis were 0.013–0.154 and 0.009–0.138 mg/kg, respectively, while those of methylmercury were 0.001–0.012 and 0.001–0.006 mg/kg, respectively. Concentrations of total mercury in Locusta migratoria manilensis and Acrida chinensis, which are the primary consumers, are lower than those in their food, while mercury is accumulated more by the secondary consumer, Paraten-odera sinensis. For total mercury, the concentrations in Locusta migratoria manilensis are inversely proportional to body length and those in Acrida chinensis increase first and then decrease with increased body length. For methyl mercury, concentration is proportional to body length for both of these arthropods. Total mercury concentrations vary in different parts of the arthropod body, and increase in the order of: abdomen > thorax > head.

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This project is supported by the Innovation Foundation of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX3-SW-437) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40371100). Authors thank Vice Pro. Zhou D.M., Sun X.L., and Barbara Beckingham for their suggestions.

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Correspondence to Q.-C. Wang.

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Revision List

Fortified sample recoveries are reported (No)

Three reference materials were used to control the precision and accuracy. GBW-07604 and GBW-07601 were used to test the total mercury in plants and insects, respectively. IAEA-443 was used to test the methylmercury in insects. The results listed in the “Materials and Methods” part showed that the methods used in the detection were appropriate and the results were reliable.

Considering the matter difference between insects and hair, additional experiments were taken to test the methylmercury recovery. Standard methylmercury solution (CH3HgCl) was added into the insect samples at the same time when insects were immerged by the 2 M HCl to control the accuracy. Five insect samples were tested and the recovery rate of methlymercury were 88.3%, 89.4%, 91.2%, 93.7%, and 94.5% and the average value was 91.4%.

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Zheng, DM., Wang, QC., Zhang, ZS. et al. Bioaccumulation of Total and Methyl Mercury by Arthropods. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 81, 95–100 (2008).

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  • Arthropod
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Food chain