Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 6, pp 1291–1304 | Cite as

Kinetics of trace metal accumulation and excretion in the polychaete Nereis diversicolor

  • A. GeffardEmail author
  • B. D. Smith
  • C. Amiard-Triquet
  • A. Y. Jeantet
  • P. S. Rainbow
Research Article


The comparative kinetics of the accumulation of the trace metals copper, zinc and cadmium have been measured in the estuarine burrowing polychaete worm Nereis (Hediste) diversicolor from two sites: (a) a metal-rich site, Restronguet Creek, Cornwall, UK, which hosts a copper- and zinc-tolerant population of worms, and (b) the Blackwater estuary, Essex, UK as a control site. A sediment transfer experiment showed that the Blackwater worms responded to the increased copper bioavailability in Restronguet Creek sediment by accumulating significantly increasing copper concentrations over 50 days. The Restronguet Creek worms showed no significant change in copper concentration over 50 days in sediment from either site or in sand. Nevertheless, electron microscopy showed that some Restronguet Creek worms do appear to excrete accumulated copper, probably in association with renewal of the cuticle over a long time scale. The Blackwater worms did not accumulate extra zinc from the zinc-rich Restronguet Creek sediment, in probable reflection of the regulation of body zinc concentration by N. diversicolor. Radiolabelled zinc and cadmium were accumulated from labelled sediment and labelled solution by worms from both sites. The rate of uptake of labelled zinc from sediment was significantly greater in the Restronguet Creek worms, as was the rate of uptake of labelled cadmium from 10 μg l−1 dissolved exposure; other rates of uptake did not differ between populations. Mucus, which is secreted by Restronguet Creek worms in response to enhanced copper exposure, adsorbed very small proportions of zinc and cadmium present in solution, indicating that the mucus does not act as an adsorption barrier against excessive metal uptake by these worms.


Cadmium Trace Metal Copper Concentration Zinc Concentration Significant Excretion 
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The authors thank Ludmilla Ovtracht for preparing the samples for EPMA and electron microscopy. Studies were carried out at the Centre de microscopie électronique de l’IFR de Biologie Intégrative and the Service inter-universitaire Assistance à la Recherche, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France, with the appreciated help of Patricia Beaunier.This project was funded by the CNRS, France, in the framework of a PICS (International Programme of Scientific Cooperation).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Geffard
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • B. D. Smith
    • 2
  • C. Amiard-Triquet
    • 1
  • A. Y. Jeantet
    • 3
  • P. S. Rainbow
    • 2
  1. 1.CNRS/GDR 1117, Service d’Ecotoxicologie, ISOMER, SMABNantes Cédex 3France
  2. 2.Deptartment of ZoologyThe Natural History MuseumLondonUK
  3. 3.Equipe de Cytophysiologie analytiqueUniversité Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance
  4. 4.Faculté des Sciences, URVVC, EA 2069 Laboratoire d’Eco-ToxicologieUniversité de Reims Champagne-ArdenneReims Cedex 2France

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