Scanning Microscopy


X-ray microanalysis (XRMA) is customized for investigations of the metabolic and detoxification strategies of heavy metals taken by marine organisms from polluted environments. Sites of uptake, intracellular accumulation, transport and excretion are visualized, analysed and quantified . Cryopreparation techniques are required to prevent the translocation or loss from specimens of soluble metal species.

In marine invertebrates, metals are detoxified by systems of chemical binding and intracellular compartmentalization. XRMA investigations have concentrated on marine molluscs and crustaceans and even within these restricted groups there are marked inter-species differences in the biochemical and cytological processes which reduce metal bioavailability. Some detoxification systems also protect the carnivores which ingest the metal-laden tissues of the prey. This results in the bioreduction of metals along a food chain. These processes are investigated by XRMA which can be tuned to observe the complex interactions which operate at all levels within and between the biota and polluted environments.