John G. Rueter, Sallie W. Chisholm, Francois M.M. Morel

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The toxicity of Cu to Thalassiosira pseudonana (Hustedt) Hasle and Heimdal was investigated by examining both short and long term effects of Cu on cellular processes. Toxic levels of Cu (pCu* < 13) were found to inhibit short term Si(OH)4 uptake rates with kinetics characteristic of irreversible inhibition at a hypothetical Cu‐sensitive Si(OH)4 transport site. Residual Si(OH)4 concentrations (those below which no uptake could occur) were found to increase with increasing levels of Cu, and the toxic effects of Cu could be reversed by increasing the concentrations of Si(OH)4 in the medium. The actual uptake of Cu by the cells was found to vary inversely with the ambient Si(OH)4 concentration. Copper did not inhibit the uptake of NO3 or PO43‐. The long term inhibition of growth rate by Cu in this species was shown not to be a result of Si deficiency caused by the inhibition of Si(OH)4 uptake. Cu inhibited cells were found to have higher Si cell quotas (including a sizable soluble pool) than the control cultures. They were, however, observed to have aberrant frustules, significantly larger than the control cells, suggesting interference with the silification process as a possible mechanism for inhibition of growth by Cu. A conceptual model is proposed for the Cu‐Si(OH)4‐growth relationship. It includes a Cu sensitive Si(OH)4 transport site that may also serve to transport Cu into the cell, and growth inhibition mediated by intracellular Cu concentrations which may block cell division or cause general cellular disfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-278
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Phycology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science

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