Critical body residues, Michaelis-Menten analysis of bioaccumulation, lethality and behaviour as endpoints of waterborne Ni toxicity in two teleosts

Erin M. Leonard, Julie R. Marentette, Sigal Balshine, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Traditionally, water quality guidelines/criteria are based on lethality tests where results are expressed as a function of waterborne concentrations (e.g. LC50). However, there is growing interest in the use of uptake and binding relationships, such as biotic ligand models (BLM), and in bioaccumulation parameters, such as critical body residue values (e.g. CBR50), to predict metal toxicity in aquatic organisms. Nevertheless, all these approaches only protect species against physiological death (e.g. mortality, failed recruitment), and do not consider ecological death which can occur at much lower concentrations when the animal cannot perform normal behaviours essential for survival. Therefore, we investigated acute (96 h) Ni toxicity in two freshwater fish species, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and compared LC, BLM, and CBR parameters for various organs, as well as behavioural responses (spontaneous activity). In general, round goby were more sensitive. Ni bioaccumulation displayed Michaelis-Menten kinetics in most tissues, and round goby gills had lower Kd (higher binding affinity) but similar B max (binding site density) values relative to rainbow trout gills. Round goby also accumulated more Ni than did trout in most tissues at a given exposure concentration. Organ-specific 96 h acute CBR values tended to be higher in round goby but 96 h acute CBR50 and CBR10 values in the gills were very similar in the two species. In contrast, LC50 and LC10 values were significantly higher in rainbow trout. With respect to BLM parameters, gill log K NiBL values for bioaccumulation were higher by 0.4-0.8 log units than the log KNiBL values for toxicity in both species, and both values were higher in goby (more sensitive). Round goby were also more sensitive with respect to the behavioural response, exhibiting a significant decline of 63-75 % in movements per minute at Ni concentrations at and above only 8 % of the LC50 value; trout exhibited no clear behavioural response. Across species, diverse behavioral responses may be more closely related to tissue Ni burdens than to waterborne Ni concentrations. To our knowledge, this is the first study to link Ni bioaccumulation with behavioural endpoints. In future it would be beneficial to expand these analyses to a wider range of species to determine whether Ni bioaccumulation, specifically in the gills, gut and whole fish, may be a good predictor of behavioural changes from metal exposure; which in the wild can lead to ecological death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Behaviour
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Lethality
  • Nickel
  • Teleosts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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