Bioaccumulation of aluminium and iron in the food chain of Lake Loskop, South Africa

08 Feb 2012

Concentrations of total Aluminium (Al) and Iron (Fe) were determined in Lake Loskop over a period of four month in 2009 in samples of phytobenthos, phytoplankton, macroinvertebrates, amphibians and fish. The highest concentrations of Al and Fe were measured in the filamentous algae Spirogyra fluviatilis (Hillse) and Spirogyra adanata (Kütz), (Al = 18,997.5 mg kg-1 dry weight; Fe = 22,054.2 mg kg-1 dry weight) in the riverine zone of the lake with a near-neutral water average pH of 7.3. However, a negative correlation exists between the Al and Fe concentrations measured in the filamentous algae in comparison to the corresponding concentrations of these elements in the water column of the riverine zone. The Al concentrations in the macroinvertebrate families collected ranged from 140.6 to 385.7 mg kg-1 dry weight, with the highest values measured for Al and Fe in the family Gomphidae (385.7 mg kg-1 dry weight and 1,710.0 mg kg-1 dry weight, respectively) in comparison to other macroinvertebrate families sampled. Al and Fe concentrations (2,580 mg kg-1 dry weight and 10,697 mg kg-1 dry weight) in the stomach contents of adult Oreochromis mossambicus fishes were much higher in comparison with adult Micropterus salmoides fishes (98.5 mg kg-1 dry weight and 439.6 mg kg-1 dry weight), respectively. In all cases of dissected fish species either white or yellow body fat was observed, thus in none of the samples both type of body fat occurred simultaneously The concentrations of total Al and Fe in the different organs of Oreochromis mossambicus was along a mean sequence of intestine > yellow body fat > brain > gills > liver > heart > white body fat, while the mean sequence of total Al and Fe in Micropterus salmoides was: intestine > gills > liver > heart > brain > white body fat. From the levels of Al detected in the yellow body fat of the studied fish species Oreochromis mossambicus, we suggest that this phenomenon may be related to the feeding habits of this species. Furthermore, the intake of certain species of phytobenthos by Oreochromis mossambicus could have played a role in the bioaccumulation of Al in the food chain and the possible development of pansteatitis in predators at higher trophic levels.