Exposure of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) to the hepatotoxic cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena

V. O. Sipiä, J. C. Franson, O. Sjövall, S. Pflugmacher, V. Shearn-Bochsler, T. E. Rocke, J. A.O. Meriluoto

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Nodularin (NODLN) is a cyclic pentapeptide hepatotoxin produced by the cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena, which forms extensive blooms during the summer in the Baltic Sea. Nodularin was detected in liver, muscle and/or feather samples of several common eiders (Somateria mollissima) from the Gulf of Finland (northern Baltic Sea) in 2002-2005. Published information on the adverse effects of NODLN in marine birds is scarce. The aim of this study was to evaluate the toxicity of NODLN, and determine the concentrations of NODLN in liver and muscle tissue in mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) exposed to N. spumigena. Mallards received a single or multiple exposure via oral gavage with an aqueous slurry containing toxic N. spumigena. Dosages ranged from 200 to 600 μg NODLN per kg body weight (bw). There were minimal histopathological changes in liver tissue, and brain cholinesterase activity did not differ among treatment groups. Concentrations of NODLN measured by LC-MS in liver varied between approximately 3-120 μg kg-1 dry weight (dw) and ducks receiving multiple exposures had significantly greater liver toxin levels than ducks receiving the two lowest single exposures. In muscle, NODLN concentrations were approximately 2-6 μg kg-1 dw, but did not differ significantly among exposure groups. This is the first in vivo lab study examining the effects and bioaccumulation of NODLN from N. spumigena in birds. The mallards in this study were resistant to adverse effects and did not bioaccumulate substantial levels of NODLN at the doses given.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalToxicological and Environmental Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Bioaccumulation
  • Mallards
  • Nodularia spumigena
  • Nodularin
  • Toxicity


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