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Global Warming Increases Oyster Sensitivity To Pollution

Date:
July 11, 2005
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
Eating oysters on a hot sunny afternoon sounds great, but it may not last forever. Dr. Gisela Lannig from the University of North Carolina, USA, will present her observations on increased cadmium sensitivity in oysters in relation to temperature. Global warming causes a threat to the species as otherwise harmless concentrations of metals become toxic under changing environmental conditions.

Do you enjoy eating oysters on a hot sunny afternoon? Make the most of it – it may not last forever. Research has shown that global warming increases the sensitivity of oysters to metal pollution, causing a deadly threat to populations in polluted areas. Dr. Gisela Lannig from the University of North Carolina, USA, will present her work on cadmium poisoning in eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) on Monday 11th July at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Main Meeting in Barcelona [session C2].

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Oysters are cold-blooded organisms so their body temperature changes with environmental temperature. Lannig observed that cadmium levels increased the basic metabolic rate (BMR) of oysters at 20ēC and 24ē. For oysters at 28ēC, cadmium did not increase the BMR, but it significantly reduces its chances of survival. "One possible mechanism for this observation is increased damage of mitochondria in cadmium-exposed oysters with increasing temperature", Lannig explains, "these organelles become significantly more sensitive to cadmium as temperature rises, so that cadmium levels which were not damaging to mitochondria at lower temperature become strongly toxic with increasing temperature."

Cadmium circulates continually between air, water and soils. As it moves easily through the food chain, high levels are reported in seals. In humans, cadmium interferes with calcium metabolism and deposition in the bone. Accumulation over time can cause serious illnesses such as itai itai disease. Future research will focus on to what extent cadmium reduces thermal tolerance of cold-blooded species.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Society for Experimental Biology. "Global Warming Increases Oyster Sensitivity To Pollution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050710201128.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2005, July 11). Global Warming Increases Oyster Sensitivity To Pollution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050710201128.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Global Warming Increases Oyster Sensitivity To Pollution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050710201128.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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