Removal of selenium containing algae by the bivalve Sinanodonta woodiana and the potential risk to human health

Chuanqi Zhou, Jung Chen Huang, Fang Liu, Shengbing He, Weili Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient for animals and humans with a relatively narrow margin between nutritional essentiality and potential toxicity. Even though our previous studies have demonstrated algae could efficiently remove Se, mainly through volatilization, concern is raised about eco-risks posed by the remaining Se in algae. Here, Sinanodonta woodiana was investigated as a biofilter for the removal of Se-containing Chlorella vulgaris and for its potential risk to human health. Our results suggest filtration rates of S. woodiana were independent of Se levels in algal biomass, with a removal efficiency of between 60 and 78%. However, Se concentrations accumulated in mussels were significantly correlated with algal-borne Se levels, with a dietary assimilation efficiency ranging from 12% to 46%. Thus, a pilot biofiltration system was set up to assess uptake and depuration processes. The system was found to efficiently remove Se laden algae through the uptake by mussels, while 21% of Se in mussels could be depurated in 6 days. Among tissues, gills accumulated the highest Se concentration after assimilating algal-borne Se but shed Se compounds in the fastest pace during depuration. Health risks posed by consumption of mussels exposed to different sources of Se were further assessed. S. woodiana accumulated the highest Se concentration after exposure to waterborne SeMet, followed by dietary Se, selenite and control. The relatively higher Se levels were found in gills for all the treatments. After boiling, the most common method of cooking mussels, the greatest reduction in Se concentration occurred in mantle for the control and dietary Se groups and in muscle for the SeMet and selenite treatments. Therefore, within the safe limits, Se-containing mussels can be consumed as a dietary supplement. Overall, our research suggests incorporation of mussels into an algal treatment system can improve Se removal efficiency and also provide financial incentives for practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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