Fish tapeworm Khawia sinensis: an indicator of environmental microcystins?

OBJECTIVES: Parasites have recently been recognized as accumulation indicators that take up and bio-concentrate substances from environmental pollution. Interestingly, helminths of fish are known to accumulate metals from the ambient environment and to contain several orders of magnitude higher concentrations than hosts. While the majority of reports mention inorganic toxin accumulation in parasites, studies concerning effects of organic pollution are infrequent and little is known about the potential of parasites to bio-accumulate microcystins.

METHODS: The parasite-host system of tapeworm Khawia sinensis and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) was used to address this issue. Both the tapeworms and livers were dissected from experimental carps orally exposed to cyanobacterial biomass for 20 days. The total dose of microcystins amounted to 27 mg/kg of feed, i.e., 0.4 mg/kg of fish mass a day. Microcystin concentrations in tapeworms and carp liver tissues were measured using the LC-MS/MS method.

RESULTS: Considering the three measured microcystin variants LR, YR and RR, only MC-RR was detected and its concentrations in tapeworms and carp liver tissue amounted to 5.78±3.78 ng/g and 2.11±0.74 ng/g fresh weight (p<0.05), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Here we show accumulation of microcystin MC-RR in the tapeworm Khawia sinensis, a parasite of common carp (Cyprinus carpio). As this is the first report addressing this issue, further studies will be necessary to examine this specific parasite-host system.

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