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Bioaccumulation and mixture toxicity of aluminium and manganese in experimentally exposed woodlice, Porcellio scaber (Crustacea, Isopoda)
Kogoui Kamta, Frederic Noel
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Soil ecosystems in urban, rural and agricultural environments receive chemical input from diverse sources of contamination, such as wastewater, industrial discharge, agricultural and urban runoff, fertilizers, vehicle leakages, landfill seepage, and animal waste overspill. Agricultural activities, transportation and industrial activities are suspected to be the highest sources of metal contamination in Cape Town. Although scientists generally have a good understanding of the toxicity of individual chemical pollutants, there is a great need to bridge the gap between our understanding of the toxic effects of exposure to individual contaminants and those effects from exposure to mixtures of chemicals. Woodlice and other soil detritivores have a particularly important ecosystem function in mineralising organic matter. Woodlice experience stress when exposed to toxic levels of metals in the diet, which can reduce feeding rates and may combine with natural stresses to reduce fitness and lower 'performance', thereby possibly resulting in these organisms being unable to completely fulfil their ecological function. The objectives of this study were: to compare how aluminium and manganese are bioaccumulated in Porcellio scaber in terms of the contribution of the hepatopancreas in metal storage compared to the rest of the body; and to determine whether mixtures of aluminium and manganese affect each other’s bioaccumulation and distribution in Porcellio scaber. Woodlice collected from a clean field site (Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden) were experimentally exposed in the laboratory to a range of environmentally relevant aluminium and manganese concentrations. The woodlice were exposed to these metals in single and mixed metal experiments. Oak leaves, collected from a clean site, were contaminated with aluminium and manganese. Therefore, the woodlice were exposed via their food source. A control experiment, where oak leaves were not contaminated, was also prepared. At week 0 and after five weeks of exposure, a sample of the woodlice (5 per exposure group) were dissected to remove the hepatopancreas. Hepatopancreas and rest of the body samples were acid digested and analysed for the metals by means of the ICP-MS. Contrary to the existing knowledge of metals accumulating in the hepatopancreas of woodlice when ingested, this study showed a higher bioaccumulation of aluminium in the rest of the body of woodlice after 5 weeks of exposure than in the hepatopancreas. This result was interpreted as a possible detoxification mechanism by woodlice through the use of the exoskeleton during the moult cycle. A similar result was found when woodlice were exposed to mixtures of aluminium and manganese. This translated to the fact that woodlice were unable to effectively deal with the toxicity caused by the mixture of aluminium and manganese. In the group of woodlice exposed to manganese alone, it was found that manganese concentrations in the rest of the body of woodlice exposed for 5 weeks were statistically higher than the manganese concentrations in the rest of the body of woodlice at the start of the exposure (week 0). However, in the hepatopancreas, there were no statistical differences between the manganese concentrations in week 0 woodlice and the manganese concentrations in week 5 woodlice. Furthermore, manganese concentrations in the rest of the body of week 5 woodlice were statistically higher than manganese concentrations in the hepatopancreas of week 5 woodlice. This was interpreted as further proof that woodlice would accumulate certain metals (aluminium and manganese in this case) in their exoskeleton so that elimination can follow during the moult cycle.