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Exposure to the Cyanotoxin Microcystin Arising from Interspecific Differences in Feeding Habits amon

November 11, 2014

The VCU Rice Rivers Center congratulates Drs. Joseph D. Wood, Rima B. Franklin, Greg Garman, Stephen McIninch and Paul A. Bukaveckas, and Aaron J. Porter on their publication: “Exposure to the Cyanotoxin Microcystin Arising from Interspecific Differences in Feeding Habits among Fish and Shellfish in the James River Estuary, Virginia”, published in Environmental Science and Technology.

The abstract reads as follows: The cyanotoxin, microcystin (MC), is known to accumulate in the tissues of diverse aquatic biota although factors influencing exposure, such as feeding habits and seasonal patterns in toxin production, are poorly known. We analyzed seasonal variation in the MC content of primary and secondary consumers, and used dietary analysis (gut contents and stable isotopes) to improve understanding of cyanotoxin transport in food webs. Periods of elevated toxin concentration were associated with peaks in the abundance of genes specific to Microcystis and MC toxin production (mcyD). Peak toxin levels in consumer tissues coincided with peak MC concentrations in seston. However, toxins in tissues persisted in overwintering populations suggesting that potential health impacts may not be limited to bloom periods. Interspecific differences in tissue MC concentrations were related to feeding habits and organic matter sources as pelagic fishes ingested a greater proportion of algae in their diet, which resulted in greater MC content in liver and muscle tissues. Sediments contained a greater proportion of allochthonous (terrestrial) organic matter and lower concentrations of MC, resulting in lower toxin concentrations among benthic detritivores. Among shellfish, the benthic suspension feeder Rangia cuneata (wedge clam) showed seasonal avoidance of toxin ingestion due to low feeding rates during periods of elevated MC. Among predators, adult Blue Catfish had low MC concentrations, whereas Blue Crabs exhibited high levels of MC in both muscle and viscera.

Wood, Joseph D., et al. (2014) Exposure to the Cyanotoxin Microcystin Arising from Interspecific Differences in Feeding Habits among Fish and Shellfish in the James River Estuary, Virginia. Environmental Science & Technology, 2014, 48, 5194-5202. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es403491k

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