Temperature-dependent toxicities of four common chemical pollutants to the marine medaka fish, copepod and rotifer
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We hypothesize that chemical toxicity to marine ectotherms is the lowest at an optimum temperature (OT) and it exacerbates with increasing or decreasing temperature from the OT. This study aimed to verify this hypothetical temperature-dependent chemical toxicity (TDCT) model through laboratory experiments. Acute toxicity over a range of temperatures was tested on four commonly used chemicals to three marine ectotherms. Our results confirmed that toxicities, in terms of 96-h LC50 (median lethal concentration; for the marine medaka fish Oryzias melastigma and the copepod Tigriopus japonicus) and 24-h LC50 (for the rotifer Brachionus koreanus), were highly temperature-dependent, and varied between test species and between study chemicals. The LC50 value of the fish peaked at 20 °C for copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate and triphenyltin chloride, and at 25 °C for dichlorophenyltrichloroethane and copper pyrithione, and decreased with temperature increase or decrease from the peak (i.e., OT). However, LC50 values of the copepod and the rotifer generally showed a negative relationship with temperature across all test chemicals. Both copepod and rotifer entered dormancy at the lowest temperature of 4 °C. Such metabolic depression responses in these zooplanktons could reduce their uptake of the chemical and hence minimize the chemical toxicity at low temperatures. Our TDCT model is supported by the fish data only, whereas a simple linear model fits better to the zooplankton data. Such species-specific TDCT patterns may be jointly ascribed to temperature-mediated changes in (1) the physiological response and susceptibility of the marine ectotherms to the chemical, (2) speciation and bioavailability of the chemical, and (3) toxicokinetics of the chemical in the organisms.
KeywordsTemperature Copper DDT Triphenyltin Pyrithione Marine organisms
This work is substantially funded by the Research Grants Council through a General Research Fund (Project No. HKU 703511P). Adela J. Li is partially supported by the HKU via a postgraduate studentship. The authors thank Helen Leung and Cecily Law for their technical support, and Dr. Stephen Cartwright of the Hong Kong Baptist University for proofreading a draft of this manuscript. The authors are very grateful to Professor Allen Burton, University of Michigan for introducing us about the early work of Professor John Cairns Jr. on studying the effect of temperature on chemical toxicity to freshwater organisms. The authors also thank the two anonymous reviewers for offering their valuable comments.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
The experiments comply with the current laws of Hong Kong in which they were performed. The manuscript contains experiments using fish, for which permission of Department of Health the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region have been obtained (Ref No. (10-147) in DH/HA&P/8/2/3 Pt. 19).
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