Acute toxicity, critical body residues, Michaelis-Menten analysis of bioaccumulation, and ionoregulatory disturbance in response to waterborne nickel in four invertebrates: Chironomus riparius, Lymnaea stagnalis, Lumbriculus variegatus and Daphnia pulex

Erin M. Leonard, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


We investigated the bioaccumulation and acute toxicity (48 h or 96 h) of Ni in four freshwater invertebrate species in two waters with hardness of 40 (soft water) and 140 mg L-1 as CaCO3 (hard water). Sensitivity order (most to least) was Lymnaea stagnalis > Daphnia pulex > Lumbriculus variegatus > Chironomus riparius. In all cases water hardness was protective against acute Ni toxicity with LC50 values 3-3.5 × higher in the hard water vs. soft water. In addition, higher water hardness significantly reduced Ni bioaccumulation in these organisms suggesting that competition by Ca and Mg for uptake at the biotic ligand may contribute to higher metal resistance. CBR50 values (Critical Body Residues) were less dependent on water chemistry (i.e. more consistent) than LC50 values within and across species by ~ 2 fold. These data support one of the main advantages of the Tissue Residue Approach (TRA) where tissue concentrations are generally less variable than exposure concentrations with respect to toxicity. Whole body Ni bioaccumulation followed Michaelis-Menten kinetics in all organisms, with greater hardness tending to decrease Bmax with no consistent effect on Kd. Across species, acute Ni LC50 values tended to increase with both Kd and Bmax values - i.e. more sensitive species exhibited higher binding affinity and lower binding capacity for Ni, but there was no correlation with body size. With respect to biotic ligand modeling, log KNiBL values derived from Ni bioaccumulation correlated well with log KNiBL values derived from toxicity testing. Both whole body Na and Mg levels were disturbed, suggesting that disruption of ionoregulatory homeostasis is a mechanism of acute Ni toxicity. In L. stagnalis, Na depletion was a more sensitive endpoint than mortality, however, the opposite was true for the other organisms. This is the first study to show the relationship between Na and Ni.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-21
Number of pages12
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - C Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2013



  • Acute
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Invertebrates
  • Ionoregulation
  • Nickel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology

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