Kim, K.S., D.H. Funk, and D.B. Buchwalter. 2012. Ecotoxicology 21:2288–2296.
Diet is often the predominant route of trace metal exposure in aquatic insects. In freshwater ecosystems, periphyton serves as a primary source of food to many aquatic insects and is a major sink for trace metals. We investigated the bioconcentration of the essential metal Zn by periphyton using 65Zn as a radiotracer. At relatively low dissolved concentrations (2–20 μg L−1), non steady state Zn bioconcentration by periphyton averaged 6,099 ± 2,430-fold, with much of the variability determined by loading regime (number of renewals and duration of exposures). Labeled periphyton was used as a food source for dietary accumulation studies with the mayfly Centroptilum triangulifer. After 29 days, larvae concentrated Zn 19-, 16- and 17-fold relative to dietary Zn concentrations of 8.1, 43.2 and 82.3 μg g−1 (dry weight), respectively. Adults from that same cohort only concentrated Zn 8-, 3- and 3- fold relative to those same dietary concentrations, revealing that mayflies lose significant Zn prior to reaching adulthood. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this loss occurs prior to emergence to the subimago, as negligible Zn was found in the subimago to imago exuvium. Across a range of adult tissue concentrations, maternal transfer consistently averaged 26.7 %. Uptake (ku, 0.26 L g−1 d−1) and efflux rate constants (ke, 0.001–0.007 d−1) were measured and assimilation efficiencies from dietary Zn concentrations of 4.9 and 59.7 μg Zn g−1 were estimated to be 88 ± 4 % and 64 ± 15 %, respectively. Both life cycle and biodynamic modeling approaches point towards diet being the primary route of Zn bioaccumulation in this mayfly.