The role of dissolved organic carbon concentration and composition on nickel toxicity to early life-stages of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2018 Sep 30; 160:162-170.EE
Nickel (Ni) emissions resulting from production and transportation raise concerns about the impact of Ni exposure to marine ecosystems. Ni bioavailability models are established for FW systems, but the influence of chemical parameters (e.g. dissolved organic carbon (DOC)) on Ni toxicity within marine systems is less well understood. To examine the effects of DOC concentration and composition on Ni toxicity, acute toxicity tests were conducted on early life-stages of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) and sea urchin embryos (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) in full strength sea water (32 ppt). Nine different field collected samples of water with varying concentration (up to 4.5 mg C/L) and composition of DOC were collected from the east coast of the United States. Organic matter compositional analysis included molecular fluorescence and absorbance spectroscopy. The different DOC sources had different protective effects against embryo toxicity. The control (no DOC) Ni 48 h-EC50 for Mytilus embryos was 133 µg/L (95% confidence interval (C.I.) of 123-144 µg/L), while Strongylocentrotus embryos displayed control 96-h EC50 values of 207 µg/L (167-247 µg/L). The most significantly protective sample had high humic acid concentrations (as determined from fluorescence spectroscopy), which yielded an EC50 of 195 µg/L (169-222 µg/L) for Mytilus, and an EC50 of 394 µg/L (369-419 µg/L) for S. purpuratus. Among all samples, protection was related to both DOC quantity and quality, with fluorescence-resolved humic and fulvic acid concentrations showing the strongest correlations with protection for both species. These data suggest that DOC is protective against Ni toxicity in M. edulis and S. purpuratus, and that accounting for a DOC quality factor will improve predictive toxicity models such as the biotic ligand model.