Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Aquatic Toxicology



First Page



Manganese (Mn) is a hypoxic reactive metal commonly found in marine sediments. Under hypoxic conditions the metal becomes fully reduced to Mn2+ and is biologically available to the benthic community for uptake. Mn is also a potent neurotoxin and it may play a role in the etiology of idiopathic blindness that has been observed in American lobsters. An acute exposure study was designed to expose American lobster, Homarus americanus, to 0, 20, 80, 150, and 300 mg L−1 (ppm) for 96 hs to explore disparities in Mn accumulation among several tissues: optic nerve, brain, hepatopancreas, muscle, hemolymph, gill, and exoskeleton. These concentrations were based on realistic pore-water concentrations (20 mg L−1), high sediment concentrations (80 mg L−1), and unrealistically high concentrations to determine lethality (150 and 300 mg L−1). A positive correlation between Mn accumulation and exposure concentration was observed in all tissues examined. In the internal tissues, manganese concentrations showed a high affinity towards brain, optic nerve, and hemolymph. In the exoskeleton and gills, Mn concentrations were also high, possibly because of internal uptake as well as external adsorption. Concentrations of Mn in tissues from the acute exposure study followed the accumulation pattern: hemolymph > gill > exoskeleton > optic nerve > brain > hepatopancreas = muscle. A long-term exposure study lasting seven weeks was designed to investigate the potential link between high Mn exposure and idiopathic blindness, a condition that affects an estimated 50 % of the adult American lobster population off Southern New England (SNE), USA. A comparison of these exposure studies showed evidence of time-dependent Mn accumulation in brain, muscle, exoskeleton, and gill tissue. Although the relationship between Mn exposure and blindness was not apparent, there was a modest trend in the development of blindness (Chi-square, p = 0.102) in animals exposed to a high concentration (150 mg L−1) of the metal. With no mortalities occurring in the acute study and only one mortality in the long-term study, it is highly unlikely that Mn is acutely toxic to American lobsters at environmentally relevant concentrations. Its potential role in idiopathic blindness remains to be determined.


Idiopathic blindness, Causality, Metal exposure, Hypoxia, Anoxia, Crustacea

Publication Statement

This is the accepted manuscript version.