Cadmium as an uncoupler of respiration in Ulva lactuca

Elizabeth A. Webster, Geoffrey M. Gadd

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The effect of cadmium on the respiration of Ulva lactuca was examined using an oxygen electrode. Discs of U. lactuca thallus in filtered seawater were either incubated in the dark for 24 h or treated with 20 μM 3(3,4‐dichlorophenyl) 1,1‐dimethylurea to inhibit photosystem II dependent noncyclic electron transfer. In both cases, the addition of cadmium, as sulphate, increased respiration, with maximum stimulation occurring at approximately 15 mM; above this concentration respiration declined and at >21 mM inhibitory effects were significant. Dinitrophenol (DNP, 50 μM) and carbonyl cyanide m‐chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP, 10 μM) also uncoupled respiration of U. lactuca, and when these compounds were used in conjunction with Cd the effects were found to be additive. Oligomycin (12.5 μ mL−1), which inhibits the mitochondrial ATPase, inhibited U. lactuca respiration but subsequent Cd addition (to 6 mM) resulted in a 2.5 × increase in respiration over control values. DNP had a similar effect when used with oligomycin. DNP and CCCP had a negligible effect on the respiration of KCN‐treated discs but the addition of Cd restored respiration to control values, probably because of the formation of insoluble Cd(CN)2. These results demonstrate that Cd can act as a respiratory uncoupler in U. lactuca.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)189-200
    Number of pages12
    JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Water Quality
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - May 1992

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Toxicology
    • Water Science and Technology
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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