Environmental science & technology

Reproductive responses and detoxification of estuarine oyster Crassostrea hongkongensis under metal stress: a seasonal study.

PMID 25660751


Understanding the impacts of metal stress on the reproduction of dominant species, such as oysters, in seriously contaminated estuarine environments has great ecological implications. In the present study, the reproductive conditions were examined monthly for 1 year in oysters Crassostrea hongkongensis from a heavily metal-contaminated site (Baijiao, mainly by Cu and Zn) in the Jiulong River estuary and a relatively clean nearby estuary (Jiuzhen). Oysters sampled in the contaminated site showed a delayed gametogenesis, a relatively shorter spawning period, and a lower gonad condition index in comparison to the oysters sampled in the reference site. In particular, we found that the proportion of females increased significantly in the contaminated oysters, which provided the first evidence that the feminization in wild oyster populations could be related to trace metal pollution. Additionally, the potential detoxification mechanism of trace metals in oysters was also investigated. Compartmentalization of trace metals in membrane-limited vesicles in hemocytes could be an important detoxification mechanism for the contaminated oysters. Our findings indicated that the long-term metal exposure may greatly influence the reproduction of the oysters and finally affect the recruitment and population of this species.