Marine Biology

, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 235–246 | Cite as

An exploratory study with the proton microprobe of the ontogenetic distribution of 16 elements in the shell of living oysters (Crassostrea virginica)

  • M. R. Carriker
  • C. P. Swann
  • J. W. Ewart


Study of the chemical composition of shell of exoskeletonous organisms in the past has required the sacrifice of the organism. Because the beam of the proton microprobe is relatively nondestructive and analyzes the surface layer of the shell, organisms do not have to be killed. The present paper presents results of a preliminary experiment in which distribution of elements (Na to Sr) in shell of living juvenile oysters, Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin), was studied in situ with a proton microprobe at monthly intervals for four months. The relative concentration of 16 elements was measured in the newly deposited prismatic edge of the right valve of three oysters reared in controlled laboratory conditions. Na, Mg, Al, Si, S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Br, and Sr were detected in concentrations as low as a few parts per million relative to the concentration of standards added to pure CaCO3. Concentration of elements varied nominally among shells of the three individual oysters and in their successive ontogenetic stages. Fluctuations in concentration of Na, Mg, S, Cl, Ca, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Zn were generally similar in the two normally growing oysters, but differed from those in the oyster that stopped growing. Trends in concentration of Al, Si, and Sr were similar in the three oysters: those of Br were variable. Relative concentrations of Na, Cl, S, Mn, Fe, and Zn increased slightly with age of oysters, that of the other elements stayed relatively constant. Concentration of most elements was higher in shell than in seawater. Variable concentrations, especially of Na, Cl, and Si in valve edges, tend to support the hypothesis of earlier workers that separate mineral phases are present as impurities entrapped within the shell during calcification.


Surface Layer Laboratory Condition CaCO3 Relative Concentration Exploratory Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Akberali, H. B.: Calcium uptake and dissolution in the shell of Scrobicularia plana (da Costa). J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 43, 1–9 (1980)Google Scholar
  2. Ali, S. M.: Effects of inorganic particles on growth of the oyster Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin). Masters Thesis, University of Delaware, 93 pp. 1981Google Scholar
  3. Blanchard, S. C. and N. D. Chasteen: Electron paramagnetic resonance spectrum of a seashell. J. Phys. Chem. 80, 1362–1367 (1976)Google Scholar
  4. Brooks, R. R. and M. G. Rumbsby: The biogeochemistry of trace element uptake by some New Zealand bivalves. Limnol. Oceanogr. 10, 521–528 (1965)Google Scholar
  5. Buchardt, B. and P. Fritz: Strontium uptake in shell aragonite from the freshwater gastropod Limnaea stagnalis. Science, N.Y. 199, 291–292 (1978)Google Scholar
  6. Carriker, M. R. and R. E. Palmer: Ultrastructural morphogenesis of prodissoconch and early dissoconch valves of the oyster Crassostrea virginica. Proc. natl Shellfish. Assoc. 69, 102–128 (1979)Google Scholar
  7. Carriker, M. R., R. E. Palmer and R. S. Prezant: Functional ultramorphology of the dissoconch valves of the oyster Crassostrea virginica. Proc. natl Shellfish. Assoc. 70, 139–183 (1980a)Google Scholar
  8. Carriker, M. R., R. E. Palmer, L. V. Sick and C. C. Johnson: Interaction of mineral elements in sea water and shell of oysters [Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin)] cultured in controlled and natural systems. J. exp. mar. Biol. Ecol. 46, 279–296 (1980b)Google Scholar
  9. Chipman, W. and E. Schommers: Role of surface associated organisms in the uptake of radioactive manganese by the clam Tapes decussatus: radioactivity in the sea, 11 pp. Internat. Atomic Energy Agency Publ. 24, (1968)Google Scholar
  10. Conger, K. A., M. L. Swift, J. B. Reeves, III and S. Lakshmanan: Shell growth of unfed oysters in the laboratory: a sublethal bioassay system for pollutants. Life Sci. 22, 245–254 (1978)Google Scholar
  11. Crisp, E. L.: The skeletal trace element chemistry of freshwater bivalves. Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University, Bloomington, 187 pp. 1975Google Scholar
  12. Dodd, J. R.: Magnesium and strontium in calcareous skeletons: a review. J. Paleontology 41, 1313–1329 (1967)Google Scholar
  13. Dogterom, A. A. and R. C. van der Schors: The effect of the growth hormone of Lymnaea stagnalis on (bi) carbonate movements, especially with regard to shell formation. Gen. comp. Endocrinol. 41, 334–339 (1980)Google Scholar
  14. Dupuy, J. L. and S. Rivkin: The development of laboratory techniques for the production of cultch-free spat of the oyster Crassostrea virginica. Chesapeake Sci. 13, 45–52 (1972)Google Scholar
  15. Estes, E. L., III: Diagenetic alteration of Mercenaria mercenaria as determined by laser microprobe analysis. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 103 pp. 1972Google Scholar
  16. Ewart, J. W. and C. E. Epifanio: A tropical flagellate food for larval and juvenile oysters, Crassostrea virginica Gmelin. Aquaculture 22, 297–300 (1981)Google Scholar
  17. Ferrell, R. E., T. E. Carville and J. D. Martinez: Trace metals in oyster shells. Environ. Lett. 4, 311–316 (1973)Google Scholar
  18. Fou, C. M., V. K. Rasmussen, C. P. Swann and D. M. Van Patter: The Bartol-University of Delaware proton microprobe. Proc. 5th Conf. Applications of Small Accelerators in Research and Industry. IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci. NS-26, 1378–1380 (1979)Google Scholar
  19. Frazier, J. M.: The dynamics of metals in the American oyster, Crassostrea virginica. I. Seasonal effects. Chesapeake Sci. 16, 162–171 (1975)Google Scholar
  20. Frazier, J. M.: The dynamics of metals in the American oyster, Crassostrea virginica. 2. Environmental effects. Chesapeake Sci. 17, 188–197 (1976)Google Scholar
  21. Galtsoff, P. S.: The American oyster, Crassostrea virginica Gmelin. Fishery Bull. Fish. Wildlife Serv. 64, 1–480 (1964)Google Scholar
  22. Goldberg, E. D., V. T. Bowen, J. W. Farrington, G. Harvey, J. H. Martin, P. L. Parker, R. W. Risebrough, W. Robertson, E. Schneider and E. Gamble: The mussel watch. Environ. Conservation 5, 101–125 (1978)Google Scholar
  23. Goldberg, E. D., Chairman: The international mussel watch. Nat. Acad. Sci., Washington, D.C., 248 pp. (1980)Google Scholar
  24. Gregoire, C.: The structure of molluscan shell. In: Ed. by M. Florkin and B. T. Scheer. Chemical zoology, vol. 7, pp 45–102, Mollusca. New York: Academic Press 1972Google Scholar
  25. Gross, G.: Oceanography, a view of the earth. 2nd. ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall 1977Google Scholar
  26. Guillard, R. R. L.: Culture of phytoplankton for feeding marine invertebrates. In: Ed. by W. L. Smith and M. H. Chanley. Culture of marine invertebrate animals, pp 29–60. New York: Plenum Publishing Co. 1975Google Scholar
  27. Horowitz, P. M., M. Aronson, L. Grodzins, W. Ladd, J. Ryan, G. Merriam and C. Lechene: Elemental analysis of biological specimens in air with a proton microprobe. Science, N.Y. 194, 1162–1165 (1976)Google Scholar
  28. Huggett, R. J., M. E. Bender and H. D. Slone: Utilizing metal concentration relationships in the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) to detect heavy metal pollution. Water Res. 7, 451–460 (1973)Google Scholar
  29. Immega, N.: Environmental influence on trace element concentrations in some modern and fossil oysters. Ph.D. Dissertation. Indiana University, Bloomington, 194pp. 1976Google Scholar
  30. Lerman, A.: Strontium and magnesium in water and in Crassostrea calcite. Science, N.Y. 150, 745–751 (1965)Google Scholar
  31. Milliman, J. D.: Recent sedimentary carbonates. Marine carbonates. Part 1, 375 pp Berlin, New York: Springer Verlag 1974Google Scholar
  32. Moberly, R. Jr.: Composition of magnesian calcites of algae and pelecypods by electron microprobe analysis. Sedimentology 11, 61–82 (1968)Google Scholar
  33. Nelson, D. J.: Microchemical constituents in contemporary and pre-Colombia clam shell. In: Ed. by E. J. Cushing and H. E. Wright, Jr. Quarternary paleoecology, pp 185–204. Proc. 7th Congr. Internat. Assoc. Quart. Res. New Haven: Yale University Press (1967)Google Scholar
  34. Palmer, R. E. and M. R. Carriker: Effects of cultural conditions on morphology of the shell of the oyster Crassostrea virginica. Proc. natl Shellfish. Assoc. 69, 58–72 (1979)Google Scholar
  35. Phillips, D. J. H.: Quantitative aquatic biological indicators: their use to monitor trace metal and organochlorine pollution. London: Applied Science Publishers 1980Google Scholar
  36. Pilkey, O. H. and R. C. Harriss: The effect of intertidal environment on the composition of calcareous skeletal material. Limnol. Oceanogr. 11, 381–385 (1966)Google Scholar
  37. Pruder, G. D., E. T. Bolton, E. E. Greenhaugh and R. E. Baggaley. Oyster growth and nutrient nitrogen cost in bivalve molluscan mariculture. Univ. Del., Sea Grant Publ. DEL-SG-11–76, 20 pp. 1976Google Scholar
  38. Pruder, G. D., E. T. Bolton and S. F. Faunce: System configuration and performance bivalve molluscan mariculature, pp 747–759. Proc. Ninth Ann. Meet. World Maricult. Soc., Atlanta 1978Google Scholar
  39. Rhoads, D. C. and R. A. Lutz: Skeletal records of environmental change. In: Ed. by D. C. Rhoads and R. A. Lutz. Skeletal growth of aquatic organisms. Biological records of environmental change, pp 1–19. New York: Plenum Press 1980Google Scholar
  40. Romeril, M. G.: The uptake and distribution of 65Zn in osyters. Mar. Biol. 9, 147–154 (1971)Google Scholar
  41. Rosenberg, G. D.: An ontogenetic approach to the environmental significance of bivalve shell chemistry. In: Ed. by D. C. Rhoads and R. A. Lutz. Skeletal growth of aquatic organisms. Biological records of environmental change, pp 133–168. New York: Plenum Press, 1980Google Scholar
  42. Rucker, J. B. and J. W. Valentine: Salinity response of trace element concentration in Crassostrea virginica. Nature, Lond. 190, 1099–1100 (1961)Google Scholar
  43. Shroy, R. E., H. W. Kraner and K. W. Jones: Proton microprobe with windowless-exit port. Nucl. Instrum. Methods 157, 163–168 (1978)Google Scholar
  44. Sick, L. V., C. C. Johnson and C. A. Siegfried: Fluxes of dissolved and particulate calcium in selected tissues of Crassostrea virginica. Mar. Biol. 54, 293–299 (1979)Google Scholar
  45. Sturesson, U.: Lead enrichment in shells of Mytilus edulis. Ambio 5, 253–256 (1976)Google Scholar
  46. Sturesson, U.: Cadmium enrichment in shell of Mytilus edulis. Ambio 7, 122–125 (1978)Google Scholar
  47. Swann, C. P.: The study of archaeological artifacts using proton induced X-rays. Proc. Internat. Conf. on Microanalysis. Nucl. Instrum. Methods (In press) (1982)Google Scholar
  48. Travis, D. F. and M. Gonsalves: Comparative ultrastructure and organization of the prismatic region of two bivalves and its possible relation to the chemical mechanism of boring. Am. Zool. 9, 635–661 (1969)Google Scholar
  49. Van Patter D. M., C. P. Swann and B. P. Glass: Proton probe analysis of an irghizite and a high-magnesium Java tektite. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 45, 229–234 (1981)Google Scholar
  50. Wada, K. and S. Suga: The distribution of some elements in the shell of freshwater and marine bivalves by electron microprobe analysis. Bull. natl Pearl Res. Lab. 20, 2219–2240 (1976)Google Scholar
  51. Windom, H. L. and R. G. Smith: Distribution of iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and silver in oysters along the Georgia coast. J. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 29, 450–452 (1972)Google Scholar
  52. Wilbur, K. M.: Shell formation in mollusks. In: Ed. by M. Florkin and B. Scheer, Chemical zoology, vol. 7, pp 103–145, Mollusca. New York: Academic Press 1972Google Scholar
  53. Wolfe, D. A.: Levels of stable Zn and 65Zn in Crassostrea virginica from North Carolina. J. Fish. Res. Bd Can. 27, 45–57 (1970)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. R. Carriker
    • 1
  • C. P. Swann
    • 2
  • J. W. Ewart
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Marine StudiesUniversity of DelawareLewesUSA
  2. 2.Bartol Research Foundation of the Franklin InstituteUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

Personalised recommendations