Mechanism of acute silver toxicity in Daphnia magna

Adalto Bianchini, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Daphnids (Daphnia magna) were exposed to AgNO3 at 0.303 ± 0.017 μg silver/L (46.9% as Ag+), in the absence of food, in moderately hard synthetic water under static conditions for up to 48 h. Results from accumulation experiments demonstrated that silver body burden was inversely related to body mass. Daphnids exposed to silver exhibited ionoregulatory disturbance, which was characterized by decreases in whole-body sodium concentration. This ionoregulatory disturbance was explained, at least in part, by a competitive inhibition of the whole-body sodium uptake (six- to sevenfold increase in the Michaelis constant with no change in maximal velocity), which was complete by 1 h of exposure, and resulted in approximately 40% inhibition of sodium influx from the water. A rapidly developing inhibition of whole-body Na+, K+-dependent adenosine triphosphatase (Na+,K+-ATPase) activity, significant by 2 h and complete at 90% blockade by 12 h, also was observed during exposure to AgNO3. Therefore, these findings clearly demonstrate that the key mechanism involved in acute Ag+ toxicity in D. magna, the most sensitive freshwater organism tested to date, resembles that described for freshwater fish- that is, inhibition of active sodium uptake by blockade of Na+,K +-ATPase. Furthermore, the results showed that Na+,K +-ATPase inhibition was directly related to silver accumulation in the whole body of D. magna. However, the nature of the sodium uptake inhibition (competitive vs noncompetitive in fish) and the fact that whole-body chloride concentration was not disturbed in daphnids was different from fish. With regard to the biotic ligand model (BLM) for silver, our results yielded a log K value of about 8.9. However, the current version of the BLM uses a rainbow trout log K value (7.3) but achieves the correct sensitivity of the model for daphnids by reducing the saturation of toxic sites needed to cause toxicity. An alternative way may be to use the log K value derived from the present results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1361-1367
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Biotic ligand model
  • K-dependent adenosine triphosphatase
  • Na-dependent adenosine triphosphatase
  • Sodium balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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