Avoidance responses to aluminium in the freshwater bivalve Anodonta cygnea

Enikõ Kádár, János Salánki, Ravin Jugdaohsingh, Jonathan J. Powell, Catherine R. McCrohan, Keith N. White

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This study examined the effect of aluminium (Al) on the filtering behaviour (shell opening or gape) of the freshwater bivalve Anodonta cygnea L in neutral fresh water. Parallel measurements of Al concentration in the soft tissues were made to examine the relationship between changes in behaviour and accumulation of Al. The number of lysosomal granules in the gill, kidney and digestive gland were counted, as lysosomes are known to be involved in the excretion and detoxification of trace metals. The bivalves were exposed to two environmentally relevant concentrations of added Al i.e. 250 and 500 μg l-1 (9.25 and 18.5 μM l-1) at neutral pH for 15 days and shell movement monitored continuously. Aluminium affected the mussels' filtering activity, producing an avoidance reaction whose magnitude was concentration-dependent; 250 μg l-1 added Al produced no detectable change, while 500 μg l-1 Al reduced mean duration of shell opening by 50%. This effect was irreversible over a 15 day recovery period. Tissue levels of Al after 15 days exposure were an order of magnitude higher in animals exposed to 250 μg l-1 added Al than in those exposed to 500 μg l-1. This was consistent with the inhibition of filtering activity due to valve closure at the higher concentration, which may have prevented uptake of Al. In addition, probable different chemical speciation of Al in the water column (soluble for 250 and colloidal for 500 μg l-1) may lead to marked differences in tissue uptake. The kidney and digestive gland were the main sites of accumulation of Al and concentrations remained significantly elevated 15 days after transfer of animals to clean water. It is suggested that mucus plays a role in the exclusion of Al as elevated concentrations were measured in the pseudofaeces of animals during and after exposure. Lysosomal granules may be involved in the intracellular handling and detoxification of Al as numbers increased significantly in all organs during exposure and continued to increase after the animals were transferred to clean water. The present study provides evidence for the bioavailability and toxicity of Al to mussels at neutral pH and at concentrations which are known to enter neutral freshwaters when mobilised by natural or anthropogenic acidity. The changes in behaviour and uptake of Al in the mussel observed in this investigation are, therefore, likely to be reflected in the natural environment and the degree to which Al affects the 'fitness' of the mussel population and the transfer of Al through the food chain merit investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 12 2001



  • Aluminium
  • Anodonta cygnea
  • Avoidance response
  • Behaviour
  • Bivalve
  • Lysosomal granule
  • Pseudofaeces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

Kádár, E., Salánki, J., Jugdaohsingh, R., Powell, J. J., McCrohan, C. R., & White, K. N. (2001). Avoidance responses to aluminium in the freshwater bivalve Anodonta cygnea. Aquatic Toxicology, 55(3-4), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0166-445X(01)00183-7