Daphnia need to be gut-cleared too: The effect of exposure to and ingestion of metal-contaminated sediment on the gut-clearance patterns of D. magna

P. L. Gillis, P. Chow-Fraser, J. F. Ranville, P. E. Ross, C. M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The presence of sediment particles in the gut indicated that Daphnia magna used in whole-sediment bioassays ingest sediment. If gut contents are not removed prior to whole-body tissue-burden analysis, then the bioavailability of any sediment-associated contaminants (e.g. metals) can be overestimated. Gut clearing patterns were determined for D. magna after exposure to both clean and metal-contaminated (Cu and Zn) field-collected sediments. D. magna exposed to reference sediment had fuller guts than those exposed to metal-contaminated sediment (95% versus 60% full). Neither reference- nor metal-exposed D. magna could clear their gut completely of sediment particles when held in clean water for 24 h. When Daphnia were transferred to clean water after exposure to metal-contaminated sediment, there was no significant decrease in gut-fullness (P > 0.05) even after 48 h of purging. By comparison, animals transferred to water containing 5 × 10 5 cells of algae (Pseudokircheriella subcapita) after exposure to contaminated sediment showed a significant drop in gut fullness from 56% immediately after exposure to 17% after 4 h of gut-clearance. Although gut fullness did not change significantly beyond 2 h of purging, data were much less variable after 8 h of gut-clearance than after 2 h or 4 h. The depuration of Cu was well described with a two-compartment first-order kinetic model (r 2 = 0.78, P < 0.0001) indicating that D. magna exposed to metal-contaminated sediment have one pool of Cu that is quickly depurated (0.2 h -1), and one that has been incorporated into the tissues (≪0.00001 h -1). Assuming tissue background of 48 μg/g, an exposed animal which has not been depurated or which has been purged with water alone would yield whole-body tissue Cu concentrations that are 5.6- and 4-fold higher, respectively, than that purged with algae + water (8 h). We recommend that D. magna used to estimate metal bioavailability from sediment be gut-cleared in the presence of algae for 8 h prior to determination of whole-body metal concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-154
Number of pages12
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 26 2005


  • D. magna
  • Gut-clearance
  • Metal bioavailability
  • Sediment exposures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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