Drastic difference in cadmium concentration in mussels (Mytilus chilensis) observed between seasons in natural bed and aquaculture systems in Chile

  • J. Max BlancEmail author
  • Carlos Molinet
  • Patricio A. Díaz
  • Ricardo Subiabre
  • Marco Salamanca
  • Jaclyn Duemler


Globally, Chile is the second largest producer of mussels, with 99% of production concentrated in the inland sea of the Los Lagos Region, Southern Chile. This study reveals that seasons produce a drastic difference in the cadmium concentration (Cd) in marine mussels in bay, channel, and fjord ecosystems in this area. As the global mussel industry continues its rapid expansion, a complete understanding of cadmium pathways is critical in order to minimize the cadmium content in harvests. In this study, biweekly sampling was conducted in Chiloé (Southern Chile), during five consecutive seasons from June 2014 to November 2015. Cadmium in the soft tissues (ST) and in the content of the digestive gland (CDG) of Mytilus chilensis were investigated, in addition to resuspensions and seston to determine the effect of the seasons on metal bioassimilation capacity. In spring, the (Cd) between CDG and ST varied by approximately 2 mg Cd kg−1 dry mass (DM). In summer and autumn, the (Cd) in CDG increased from 3 to 6 mg Cd kg−1 while the (Cd) in ST decreased from 2.5 to 1.5 mg Cd kg−1 DM. The three ecosystems showed the same cadmium bioconcentration trends in all seasons, revealing coherent global trends. These findings should caution the industry and coastal populations about the seasonal variability and intensity of cadmium metal transfer to biofilters, especially because of the adverse effects of cadmium consumption on human health. Additionally, this study found that mussels in natural beds concentrate more Cd (> 1 mg Cd kg−1 DM) than in industrial facilities. Multiregression analysis showed and explained the cadmium in CDG for three ecosystems: channel (R2 0.9537), bay (R2 0.5962), and fjord (R2 0.4009). The independent variable nocturnal seston was able to explain the increase in cadmium.


Mussel Cadmium Marine sediments Resuspension events Seasons 



We would like to thank CERAM laboratory at the Universidad Austral de Chile. We are also grateful to the Orizon S. A and Camanchaca S.A. companies, both associated with AMI-Chile AG, for the use of their farms for this study. Thanks also given to Dr. Cristelle Caplat and Dr. Olivier Richard of SMEL (Synergie Mer Littoral) Caen University and Normandy University (France) and Dr. Lionel Dennis, Directeur de la Station Marine de Wimereaux de la Université de Lille (France) for exchange of technical and scientific information. We would also like to recognize the Laboratory of Chemical Oceanography (Universidad de Concepción-Chile) for the cadmium analysis.

Funding information

Dr. J. Max Blanc was supported by project PAI781301009, National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT), Chile. Dr. Patricio A. Díaz is funded by Project PAI79160065, CONICYT, Chile.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Max Blanc
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carlos Molinet
    • 2
  • Patricio A. Díaz
    • 3
  • Ricardo Subiabre
    • 4
  • Marco Salamanca
    • 5
  • Jaclyn Duemler
    • 6
  1. 1.Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias de la AcuiculturaUniversidad Austral de ChilePuerto MonttChile
  2. 2.Programa de Investigación Pesquera and Instituto de AcuiculturaUniversidad Austral de ChilePuerto MonttChile
  3. 3.Centro i~mar and CeBiBUniversidad de Los LagosPuerto MonttChile
  4. 4.Centro de Docencia Superior en Ciencias BásicasUniversidad Austral de ChilePuerto MonttChile
  5. 5.Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y OceanográficasUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  6. 6.Project CORFO INNOVA, COD. 17ITE1-76255SantiagoChile

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