Petroleum Hydrocarbons: Uptake and Discharge by the Marine Mussel Mytilus edulis

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Science  28 Jul 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4046, pp. 344-346
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4046.344


The common marine mussel Mytilus edulis has been observed to rapidly take up mineral oil, [14C]heptadecane, 1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthalene, [14C]toluene, [14C]naphthalene, and [3C]3,4-benzopyrene from seawater solution. This species of mussel did not metabolize any of these compounds, and transfer of the mussel to fresh seawater, after exposure to the hydrocarbon in solution, resulted in the discharge of most of the hydrocarbon, although significant amounts remained (between 1 and 400 micrograms per mussel). The nontoxic paraffinic hydrocarbons mineral oil and heptadecane were taken up (10 milligrams per mussel) to a much greater extent than the aromatic hydrocarbons (2 to 20 micro-grams per mussel).