Effect of Cadmium and Nickel Exposure on Early Development in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Embryos Academic Article uri icon


  • Exposure to even low concentrations of heavy metals can be toxic to aquatic organisms, especially during embryonic development. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the toxicity of nickel and cadmium in zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of each metal alone or in combination from 4 h through to 72 h postfertilization. Neither metal altered survival, but individual and combined exposures decreased hatching rate. Whereas cadmium did not affect total body length, trunk area, eye diameter, or eye area, nickel alone and in combination with cadmium decreased each morphological parameter. Yolk sac area, an index of metabolic rate, was not affected by nickel, but was larger in embryos exposed to high cadmium concentrations or nickel and cadmium combined at high concentrations. Nickel decreased spontaneous movement, whereas cadmium alone or nickel and cadmium combined had no effect. Neither metal altered elicited movement, but nickel and cadmium combined decreased elicited movement. Myosin protein expression in skeletal muscle was not altered by cadmium exposure. However, exposure to nickel at low concentrations and combined exposure to nickel and cadmium decreased myosin expression. Overall, nickel was more toxic than cadmium. In conclusion, we observed that combined exposures had a greater effect on movement than gross morphology, and no significant additive or synergistic interactions were present. These results imply that nickel and cadmium are toxic to developing embryos, even at very low exposure concentrations, and that these metals act via different mechanisms.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Aldavood, S. J., Abbott, L. C., Evans, Z. R., Griffin, D. J., Lee, M. D., Quintero-Arevalo, N. M., & Villalobos, A. R.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Aldavood, Seyed Javid||Abbott, Louise C||Evans, Zachary R||Griffin, Daniel J||Lee, MaKenzie D||Quintero-Arevalo, Natalia M||Villalobos, Alice R

publication date

  • October 2020