Mazzaella laminarioides and Sarcothalia crispata as possible bioindicators of heavy metal contamination in the marine coastal zone of Chile

The suitability of Mazzaella laminarioides and Sarcothalia crispata as heavy metal biomonitors of Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn was assessed by comparing bioaccumulation of these elements in different life stages and frond sizes in samples from three locations, San Vicente Bay (industrial area), Coliumo, and Quidico (the latter as a reference station), where different degrees of heavy metal pollution are recorded. Bioaccumulation and bioconcentration factors of Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn were evaluated. The two macroalgae species showed similar patterns, with higher values of Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn in polluted areas. M. laminarioides bioaccumulated higher concentrations of all metals assessed than S. crispata, independent of life stage and frond size. The results also showed significantly higher Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn concentrations (p < 0.05) in water samples from San Vicente Bay than those measured in Coliumo and Quidico. Concentrations of Cd, Hg, Pb, and Zn in San Vicente Bay and Cd, Hg, and Pb in Coliumo and Quidico exceed the mean values considered to represent natural concentrations (Cu = 3.00 mu g L-1; Zn = 5.00 mu g L-1; Pb = 0.03 mu g L-1; Cd = 0.05 mu g L-1; Hg = 0.05 mu g L-1); however, the concentrations recorded do not cause negative effects on the growth and survival of macroalgae. The assessment of heavy metals bioaccumulated in M. laminarioides and S. crispata, particularly Hg, Pb, and Zn, offers a reliable approach for pollution assessment in rocky intertidal environments. Cu and Cd concentrations in seawater samples from San Vicente and Coliumo Bays were significantly higher than in those from Quidico (p value < 0.05); no significant differences in Cd concentrations were observed between San Vicente and Coliumo Bays (p < 0.05). Exceptionally, Cd is bioaccumulated at high levels independent of its availability in the water, thus reaching high concentrations in control areas. High concentrations of metals like Cu and Zn may limit or inhibit Cd uptake in macroalgae, since the transport channels are saturated by some metals, reducing the accumulation of others. These macroalgae species offer good potential for the development of suitable heavy metal pollution survey tools in rocky intertidal environments.

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