Cadmium transport by the gut and Malpighian tubules of Chironomus riparius

Erin M. Leonard, Laura M. Pierce, Patricia L. Gillis, Chris M. Wood, Michael J. O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Many aquatic insects are very insensitive to cadmium in short-term laboratory studies. LC50 values for larvae of the midge Chironomus riparius are over 25,000 times the Criterion Maximum Concentration in the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA (2000)) species sensitivity distribution (SSD). Excretion or sequestration of cadmium may contribute to insensitivity and we have therefore examined cadmium transport by isolated guts and renal tissues of C. riparius larvae. Regional differences of Cd transport along the gut were identified using a Cd2+-selective microelectrode in conjunction with the Scanning Ion-Selective Electrode Technique (SIET). Cd is transported into the anterior midgut (AMG) cells from the lumen and out of the cells into the hemolymph. The transport of Cd from the gut lumen to the hemolymph exposes other tissues such as the nervous system and muscles to Cd. The gut segments which remove Cd from the hemolymph at the highest rate are the posterior midgut (PMG) and the ileum. In addition, assays using an isolated Malpighian (renal) tubule preparation have shown that the Malpighian tubules (MT) both sequester and secrete Cd. For larvae bathed in 10 μmol l-1 Cd, the tubules can secrete the entire hemolymph burden of Cd in ∼15 h.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 5 2009


  • Cadmium
  • Cd secretion
  • Cd sequestration
  • Cd-selective microelectrodes
  • Chironomus riparius
  • Malpighian tubules

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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