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Mercury Accumulation and Biomarkers of Exposure in Two Popular Recreational Fishes in Hawaiian Waters



Stephanie D. Holbert, Colleen E. Bryan Sallee, Keith Korsmeyer, Brenda A. Jensen


Mercury (Hg) exposure has not been examined in many recreational nearshore fish species that are commonly consumed around the Hawaiian Islands. Specific gene transcripts, such as metallothionein (MET) and thioredoxin reductase (TrxR), can be used to examine Hg exposure responses in aquatic organisms. This study measured total mercury (THg) in four species from two groups of Hawaiian nearshore fishes: giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis, n = 13), bluefin trevally (C. melampygus, n = 4), sharp jaw bonefish (Albula virgata, n = 2), and round jaw bonefish (A. glossodonta, n = 19). Total Hg accumulation and abundance profiles of MET and TrxR were evaluated for muscle, liver, and kidney tissues. Total Hg in round jaw bonefish and giant trevally tissues accumulated with length and calculated age. In round jaw bonefish tissues, mean THg was greater in kidney (1156 ng/g wet mass (wm)) than liver (339 ng/g wm) and muscle (330 ng/g wm). Giant trevally muscle (187 ng/g wm) and liver (277 ng/g wm) mean THg did not differ significantly. Fish species in this study were compared to commercial and local fish species with state and federal muscle tissue consumption advisories based on THg benchmarks developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Both bonefishes had mean muscle THg that exceeded benchmarks suggesting consumption advisories should be considered. MET transcript in round jaw bonefish kidney tissue and kidney THg exhibited a marginally significant positive correlation, while TrxR transcript in liver tissue negatively correlated with increasing liver THg. These results contribute to our understanding of Hg exposure associated health effects in fish.


Mercury, Metallothionein, Thioredoxin reductase, bonefish, trevally, mRNA expression


Holbert, S. , Bryan Sallee, C. , Korsmeyer, K. and Jensen, B. (2023), Mercury Accumulation and Biomarkers of Exposure in Two Popular Recreational Fishes in Hawaiian Waters, Ecotoxicology, [online], (Accessed May 26, 2024)


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Created July 25, 2023