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In situ assessment of Ulva australis as a monitoring and management tool for metal pollution


Farias, DR and Hurd, CL and Eriksen, RS and Simioni, C and Schmidt, E and Bouzon, ZL and MacLeod, CK, In situ assessment of Ulva australis as a monitoring and management tool for metal pollution, Journal of Applied Phycology, 29, (5) pp. 2489-2502. ISSN 0921-8971 (2017) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10811-017-1073-y


We investigated physiological responses of Ulva australis to metals and their implications for biomonitoring and management tool. To determine the capacity of Ulva to accumulate metals over the short-term, we undertook an in situ experiment where we transplanted thalli to sites with different levels of metal pollution. After 12 days, arsenic, copper, lead, and zinc accumulation was observed. Zinc was significantly greater (p = 0.001) at the most polluted site and was highly correlated (r = 0.87) with seawater total Zn concentration. We also assessed whether metal exposure can compromise U. australis performance by evaluating physiological responses and changes in thalli ultrastructure. We observed an increase in electron-dense bodies in the cell walls and vacuoles, which clearly indicates metal accumulation. However, there was no change in physiological performance (i.e. growth rate, Fv/Fm, rETRmax, or in photosynthetic pigments content) between the control and transplanted thalli (p > 0.05). Bioaccumulation capacity of U. australis was assessed by deploying thalli at a highly polluted site for 45 days, where zinc in Ulva markedly increased over time and was highly correlated with the environmental concentrations (total Zn in seawater, r = 0.85). The metal uptake rate increased steadily over time, confirming that Ulva is clearly capable of bioaccumulation. However, visual examination of the thalli suggested degradation over time, which might limit deployment time (20 days). Clearly, U. australis has potential as a biomonitor/management tool, particularly for zinc, but the results suggest it may be a useful tool for removing metals from the environment.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:chlorophyta, bioaccumulation, photosynthetic performance, physiological performance, ultrastructure, zinc
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Farias, DR (Mrs Daniela Farias)
UTAS Author:Hurd, CL (Professor Catriona Hurd)
UTAS Author:Eriksen, RS (Dr Ruth Eriksen)
UTAS Author:MacLeod, CK (Associate Professor Catriona MacLeod)
ID Code:114793
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:9
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2017-02-27
Last Modified:2018-04-20

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