Physiological effects of chronic silver exposure in Daphnia magna

Adalto Bianchini, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Daphnia magna were exposed to a total concentration of 5.0±0.04 μg Ag/l, added as AgNO3 (dissolved concentration, as defined by 0.45 μm filtration=2.0±0.01 μg Ag/l) in moderately hard synthetic water under static conditions (total organic carbon=4.80±1.32 mg/l) with daily feeding and water renewal, for 21 days. There was no mortality in control daphnids and 20% mortality in silver-exposed animals. Silver exposure caused a small but significant reduction of reproductive performance manifested as a 13.7% decrease in the number of neonates produced per adult per reproduction day over the 21-day exposure. However, silver exposed daphnids also exhibited a much more marked ionoregulatory disturbance, which was characterized by a 65% decrease in whole body Na+ concentration, and an 81% inhibition of unidirectional whole body Na+ uptake. Previous work on the acute toxicity of Ag+ to daphnids has shown that Na+ uptake inhibition is directly related to inhibition of Na+,K+-ATPase activity. Therefore, we suggest that the Na+ uptake inhibition seen in response to chronic silver exposure was explained by an inhibition of the Na+ channels at the apical 'gill' membrane, since a 60% increase in whole body Na+,K+-ATPase activity was observed in the chronically silver-exposed daphnids. Our findings demonstrate that, in broad view, the key mechanism involved in chronic silver toxicity in D. magna, the most acutely sensitive freshwater organism tested up to now, resembles that described for acute toxicity - i.e. ionoregulatory disturbance associated with inhibition of active Na+ uptake, though the fine details may differ. Our results provide encouragement for future extension of the current acute version of the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) to one that predicts chronic silver toxicity for environmental regulation and risk assessment. The results strongly suggest that Na+ uptake inhibition is the best endpoint to determine sensitivity to both acute and chronic toxicity in the scope of future versions of the BLM for silver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - C Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Biotic Ligand Model
  • Chronic toxicity
  • Daphnia magna
  • Ionoregulation
  • Na,K-ATPase
  • Reproductive inhibition
  • Silver
  • Sodium balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pharmacology


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