The acanthocephalan Paratenuisentis ambiguus as a sensitive indicator of the precious metals Pt and Rh from automobile catalytic converters

B Sures, Sonja Zimmermann, Carmen Sonntag, D Stuben, H Taraschewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies revealed that intestinal acanthocephalans of fish can accumulate heavy metals to concentrations orders of magnitude higher than those in the host tissues or the aquatic environment. This significant heavy metal accumulation by acanthocephalans, even surpassing that of established free living accumulation bioindicators, encouraged us to study the bioavailability of the platinum-group-metals (PGM) Pt and Rh for parasites. These precious metals are used in catalytic converters of cars for exhaust gas purification in Europe since the early 1980s. In addition to the beneficial effect in reducing the emission of CHx, CO and NOx of cars there is an increasing emission of these metals. However, it still remains unclear if these elements become accumulated in the biosphere and whether they affect the health of organisms. The present study reveals that in European eels (Anguilla anguilla) naturally infected with the eoacanthocephalan parasite Paratenuisentis ambiguus and experimentally exposed to ground catalytic converter material, the parasites take up and accumulate the catalytic active metals Pt and Rh whereas in the examined host tissues we found no metal uptake. Compared with the PGM concentrations in the water the worms contained 1600 times higher Rh and 50 times higher Pt concentrations. Thus, the parasites can be used as sentinel organisms reflecting even very low levels of precious metals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401 - 405
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Cite this