Effect of dissolved organic matter on the uptake of trace metals by American oysters. Academic Article uri icon


  • To examine the effects of dissolved organic matter on metal bioavailability, uptake of trace metals (Cd, Co, Hg, Cr, Ag, Zn) by American oysters (Crassostrea virginica) was compared between treatments with different dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and contrasting low molecular weight (LMW, 1 kDa) and high molecular weight (HMW, 1 kDa-0.2 micron) DOC fractions, using radiotracer techniques and short-term exposure experiments. Uptake rate constants (mL g-1 h-1) of metals, in general, increased with increasing DOC concentrations, with an initial decrease at lower DOC concentrations. Oyster dry weight concentration factors (DCF, mL g-1), determined at the end of exposure experiments (8 h), also increased for Cd, Co, Cr, Ag, and Zn, but decreased for Hg, with increasing DOC concentrations. Changes of metal uptake rate constants and DCF values with DOC concentration suggest that metal uptake pathways by American oysters vary from predominantly uptake (by diffusion of neutral) of free ionic, inorganically complexed, and LMW organic ligand complexed metals at very low DOC concentration to direct ingestion and digestion of HMW or colloidally complexed metals at higher DOC concentrations. Measured partition coefficients (Kc) between dissolved and colloidal phases were comparable between metals, ranging from 10(5.12) to 10(5.75) mL g-1. However, DCF values and uptake rate constants differed considerably between metals, with the highest DCF values and uptake rate constants found for B-type metals, e.g., Ag, Hg, Zn, and Cd, and the lowest ones for several intermediate-type metals (e.g., Co, Cr). Metal types and thus the interaction of metals with organic ligands, such as strong complexation of B-type metals with S-containing organic ligands, may play an important role in the bioavailability and toxicity of metals to aquatic organisms. Differences in metal uptake in contrasting LMW and HMW DOC treatments suggest a generally depressed bioavailability of colloidally complexed metals at low DOC concentration (0.5 ppm) but a generally enhanced uptake at higher DOC concentrations.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Technol

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Guo, L., Hunt, B. J., Santschi, P. H., & Ray, S. M.

citation count

  • 73

complete list of authors

  • Guo, L||Hunt, BJ||Santschi, PH||Ray, SM

publication date

  • March 2001