Mercury in parasitic nematodes and trematodes and their double-crested cormorant hosts: bioaccumulation in the face of sequestration by nematodes.
When exposed to methylmercury in the laboratory, grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio, parasitized by the isopod Probopyrus pandalicola, accumulated lower concentrations of mercury than their unparasitized counterparts. The parasitic isopod accumulated far less mercury than the grass shrimp. When exposed to mercury in a contaminated field site, mummichogs, Fundulus heteroclitus, parasitized with the nematode Eustrongylides, similarly accumulated lower concentrations of mercury than unparasitized fish, and the parasite similarly accumulated less than the host. The lower uptake by the parasites compared to their hosts is counter to the general view of biomagnification of methylmercury, since parasites are a trophic level above their hosts. The mechanism whereby parasitized animals accumulate less toxicant than unparasitized ones is unknown, but may be partially due to lower metabolic rate.