Trophic transfer and dietary toxicity of Cd from the oligochaete to the rainbow trout

Tania Y.T. Ng, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Dietary toxicity of metals on fish is often studied using commercial pellet food, and there is a lack of investigation on the toxicity of metals that are biologically incorporated into the natural food from the aquatic environment. In this study, we investigated the toxicity of dietborne Cd from the oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus to the rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The oligochaete worms were exposed to waterborne Cd (0.1, 5, 20, and 200 μg L-1) for 1 week and the fish were fed this food exclusively (daily ration = 3.5% body wet weight) for 1 month. Cd concentrations in the worms averaged 0.1, 0.6, 2.2, and 30.3 μg g-1 wet weight respectively, whereas the whole fish accumulated 0.002, 0.005, 0.019, and 0.387 μg Cd g-1 wet weight respectively, after feeding upon control or Cd-contaminated worms for 4 weeks. Highest concentrations of Cd were retained in the gut, followed by the kidney and liver of the fish, with the latter two increasing over time; however, gut tissue accounted for >80% of whole body Cd burdens at all times. The trophic transfer efficiency of Cd was low (0.9-6.4%) although higher than in previous studies using Cd-spiked commercial diets, and was only weakly correlated to the internal Cd storage in the worms. The level of Cd in the contaminated worms did not affect Cd trophic transfer efficiency, but was reduced over the dietary exposure period. Dietborne Cd did not interfere with whole body Ca uptake from the water or alter plasma [Ca], but reduced growth by 50% in the trout exposed to the highest Cd dose. Cd stored in the metallothionein-like proteins of the fish gut tissue increased while that in the heat-denaturable proteins was reduced, suggesting detoxification over time. This study suggests a higher bioavailability and toxicity of Cd from the natural diets than from the commercial diets used in previous studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 8 2008


  • Cadmium
  • Dietborne
  • Oligochaete
  • Rainbow trout
  • Toxicity
  • Trophic transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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