Accumulation of Thallium in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Following Acute and Subchronic Waterborne Exposure

Andrew Nagel, Chad W. Cuss, Greg G. Goss, William Shotyk, Chris N. Glover

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The accumulation and tissue distribution of toxicants in aquatic biota can be determinative of their toxic impact to both exposed organisms and their potential human consumers. In the present study, accumulation of the trace metal thallium (Tl) in gill, muscle, plasma, and otoliths of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) following acute (96-h) and subchronic (28-day) waterborne exposures was investigated. Owing to known interactions between Tl and potassium ions (K+), plasma and muscle K+ concentrations were also determined. Branchial Tl accumulated in a dose-dependent manner in both acute and subchronic exposures, while plasma Tl was rapidly mobilized to tissues and accumulated only at exposure concentrations of 141 µg L−1 or higher. For muscle tissue, Tl concentrations at 28 days were markedly lower than those at 96 h at comparable exposure concentrations (0.9 µg L−1), indicating the presence of mechanisms that act to reduce Tl accumulation over time. However, after acute exposure, muscle Tl reached concentrations that, if consumed, would exceed acceptable daily intake values for this element, indicating some risk to human health from the consumption of fish from waters heavily contaminated with Tl. Otoliths showed Tl concentrations that reflected exposure concentration and length, confirming their capacity to provide insight into fish exposure history. No changes in tissue K+ concentrations were observed, suggesting that accumulation of Tl in rainbow trout plasma and muscle does not occur at the expense of K+ homeostasis. In addition to highlighting the capacity of rainbow trout to accumulate Tl to levels that exceed recommended dietary doses to human consumers, the present study provides the first data of tissue-specific Tl accumulation in an important regulatory species. Environ Toxicol Chem 2023;42:1553–1563.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1553-1563
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul. 2023


  • Aquatic toxicology
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Metal uptake


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