Insight on trace element detoxification in the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) through genetic, enzymatic and metallothionein analyses

Abstract : Trace elements concentrations (Ag, As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se, Zn) were investigated in the liver, kidneys, muscle and feathers of 31 black-tailed godwits (Limosa limosa) accidentally killed during catches by mist net in the Pertuis Charentais, Atlantic coast of France. Analyses of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios were carried out in liver, muscle and feathers in order to elucidate dietary patterns and to determine whether differences in diet explained the variation in elemental uptake. This study also aimed to have a preliminary assessment of sub-lethal effects triggered by trace elements through the investigation of gene expressions by quantitative real-time PCR, antioxidant enzyme activities (catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase), and metallothionein (MT) levels. The results showed that Cr and Ni concentrations in tissues of adults were lower than in juveniles in part because adults may have eliminated these trace elements through moulting. Except for Cd and Ni, trace element concentrations were negatively correlated to the body mass of godwits. Ag, As, Hg and Se concentrations were positively linked with the trophic position of birds. The diet could be considered as a fundamental route of exposure for these elements demonstrating therefore the qualitative linkage between dietary habits of godwits and their contaminant concentrations. Our results strongly suggest that even though trace elements concentrations were mostly below toxicity threshold level, the elevated concentrations of As, Ag, Cd, Cu, Fe and Se may however trigger sub-lethal effects. Trace elements appear to enhance expression of genes involved in oxidative stress defence, which indicates the production of reactive oxygen species. Moreover, birds with the highest concentrations appeared to have an increased mitochondrial metabolism suggesting that the fight against trace element toxicity requires additional energetic needs notably to produce detoxification mechanisms such as metallothioneins.
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Magali Lucia, Pierrick Bocher, Richard Cosson, Carine Churlaud, Frédéric Robin, et al.. Insight on trace element detoxification in the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) through genetic, enzymatic and metallothionein analyses. Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier, 2012, 423, pp.73-83. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.02.005⟩. ⟨hal-00683292⟩

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