Chronic toxicity of dietary copper to Daphnia magna.Aquat Toxicol. 2007 Mar 30; 81(4):409-18.AT
There is a growing concern that dietborne metal toxicity might be important in aquatic ecosystems. However, the science behind this matter is insufficiently developed to explicitly and accurately account for this in metal regulation or risk assessment. We investigated the effects of a chronic exposure of Daphnia magna to an elevated level of Cu (3000 microg Cu/g dry wt) in their diet (the green alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata). Compared to daphnids fed with P. subcapitata containing a background of 10.6 microg Cu/g dry wt, daphnids fed for 21 days with this Cu-contaminated food accumulated a total copper body burden of 325 microg Cu/g dry wt, which is about 30-fold higher than the control body burden of 12.1 microg/g dry wt. The exposed daphnids experienced a 38% reduction of growth (measured as final dry body weight), a 50% reduction of reproduction (total number of juveniles produced per daphnid), and only produced three broods versus four broods by the control daphnids. Unlike most other studies, we were able to demonstrate that these effects were most likely not due to a reduced nutritional quality of the food, based on C:P ratios and fatty acid content and composition of the Cu-contaminated algae. Life-history analysis showed that time to first brood was not affected by dietary Cu, while the second and third broods were significantly delayed by 0.7 and 1.5 days, respectively. On the other hand, brood sizes of all three broods were significantly lower in Cu exposed daphnids, i.e. by 32-55%. The variety of effects observed suggest the possible, and perhaps simultaneous, involvement of several toxicity mechanisms such as increased metabolic cost, reduced energy acquisition (potentially via inhibition of digestive enzyme activity), targeted inhibition of reproduction (potentially via inhibition of vitellogenesis), and/or direct inhibition of molting. Further research is needed to differentiate between these postulated mechanisms of dietary Cu toxicity and to determine whether they act separately or in concert.