Vanadium pp 73-92 | Cite as

Hyper-Accumulation of Vanadium in Polychaetes

  • Daniele Fattorini
  • Francesco RegoliEmail author


The present chapter summarizes our current knowledge on vanadium accumulation in polychaetes, with special emphasis on tube-dwelling fan worms of the Sabellidae family. Some of these species exhibit the unusual capability to hyperaccumulate vanadium at levels several order of magnitude higher than those commonly found in most aquatic organisms. Concentrations higher than 5,000 and 10,000 μg/g were measured in branchial crowns of Pseudopotamilla occelata and Perkinsiana littoralis respectively, stored in vacuoles of the epithelial cells. These tissues appear as feather-like filaments, typically expanded for filter-feeding and respiration activities, while the rest of the body remain protected inside the tube. Feeding trials suggested that the elevated levels of vanadium in branchial filaments of sabellids can act as chemical deterrents against predation in more exposed tissues. A similar function, recently proposed also for the elevated levels of arsenic in branchial crowns of Sabella spallanzanii suggest that hyperaccumulation of toxic metals is a common antipredatory strategy for branchial crowns of sabellid polychaetes, which often results unpalatable for consumers.


Vanadium Marine organisms Polychaetes Sabellidae Branchial crowns Hyper-accumulation Subcellular distribution Biological functions Chemical defenses Anti-predatory strategy 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’AmbienteUniversità Politecnica delle MarcheAnconaItaly

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