Monday, 23 May 2005

This presentation is part of: Biological Chemistry Posters

Effects of phytoplankton and eelgrass uptake on bioavailability of toxic trace metals in marine environments

Peter R. Pascucci and Steven W. Sabean. Community College of Denver, Denver, CO

The bioavailability of metals in marine waters has been an issue of concern for environmental scientists for several years now. No longer are total (bulk) measured concentrations the only environmental factor considered in both risk assessment and fate/transport mechanisms. The actual trace and ultra-trace level concentrations of metals that are potentially metabolized by specific organisms are considered hazardous. This type of study may also have impacts on chemical elements or compounds that are considered nutrients to marine life.

The marine phytoplankton T. suecica, and Atlantic eelgrass species Z. marina were investigated for divalent Ni, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn ion uptake with comparisons for both live algal cells versus lysed cells. The lysed cells would be a quantitative indicator for bioavailable metals concentrations leaching into the marine water column, with possible effects on other organisms. The eelgrass was chosen due to its larger surface area than individual phytoplankton cells, which are more effectively utilized in aggregate.

In addition the effect of solubility versus water column temperature was investigated at the preliminary stage for the uptake of the aforementioned metal ions using the phytoplankton T. suecica. Stresses to precipitation equilibria of these metal ions due to temperature fluctuations may mean possible resuspension in the water column leading to a seasonal fluctuation in bioavailability of these metal ions. Another bioavailability dynamic to consider for future experimentation would be seasonal algal blooms, although this may not significantly affect marine plants such as Z. marina. Herbivore organisms that ingest algae must also be scrutinized.

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