Aiptasia pulchella: a tropical cnidarian representative for laboratory ecotoxicological research

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Howe, PL, Reichelt-Brushett, AJ & Clark, MW 2012, 'Aiptasia pulchella: a tropical cnidarian representative for laboratory ecotoxicological research', Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, vol. 31, no. 11, pp. 2653-2662.

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An urgent need exists to identify suitable tropical marine species for use in the development of sensitive and reliable test methods for routine laboratory ecotoxicological testing. Corals are a group of organisms not represented in routine ecotoxicology due to inherent difficulties in laboratory husbandry, and sea anemones from the same phylum (cnidaria) may be useful proxies. Aiptasia pulchella is a tropical symbiotic sea anemone with a wide geographic range. It is well suited to laboratory conditions and has been used extensively in research. However, its suitability as a toxicity test species has not been investigated. Assessment of juvenile recruitment in laboratory and semi-outdoor conditions showed higher production in semi-outdoor conditions; however, laboratory rearing produced enough recruits to run routine toxicity tests. In investigations of the sensitivity of A. pulchella to contaminants, acute tests were conducted on 1- to 2-mm juveniles using copper. Lethal concentration, 50% (LC50) values at 96 h estimated from tests using five and 10 replicates ranged from 30 to 83 and 60 to 90 µg/L, respectively, and a 28-d LC50 of 26 µg/L was estimated. During the present study, sublethal endpoints were investigated; chronic assessment of inhibited asexual reproduction looks promising (12-d effective concentration, 50% [EC50] 15 µg/L) and should be assessed further. Aiptasia pulchella is a species worthy of investigation as a cnidarian representative, and will be an invaluable contribution to tropical marine ecotoxicologists.