SREL Reprint #2683




Laser Ablation-ICP-MS Analysis of Dissected Tissue: A Conservation-Minded Approach to Assessing Contaminant Exposure

Brian P. Jackson, William A. Hopkins, and Jennifer Baionno

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802

Abstract: Minimally invasive sampling techniques are an essential ecotoxicological tool for continuous assessment of contaminant exposure and in instances where it is not desirable or practical to sacrifice the animal. In this paper, we report on the application of laser ablation-ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS) for sampling of minute (~1 mg, 2-3 mm) tail clips of the banded water snake, Nerodia fasciata, as a means to assess contaminant exposure. The snakes were split into three treatments (n = 8) and were fed three increasing levels (control, medium, and high) of fish contaminated with As, Se, and Sr for 24 months. LA-ICP-MS concentrations of tail clips for all three elements were significantly correlated with the remaining whole tail concentration determined by homogenization, acid digestion, and ICP-MS analysis. Additionally, LA-ICP-MS concentrations for As and Se in the tail clip were similar to the acid digestion solution analysis values for the whole tail, which suggests that these elements are homogeneously distributed. Strontium concentrations were underestimated by LA-ICP-MS when compared to whole tail concentrations. Statistical analysis showed that LA-ICP-MS tail clip concentrations differed significantly according to dietary treatment. Posterior probability error rates from nonparametric discriminant function analysis indicated that LA-ICP-MS analysis of tail clips was useful for predicting exposure to Se with only a 4% probability of misclassification among treatments. Errors associated with misclassification of As were greater (17%) but this was, in part, related to the low concentrations of As in the tail (<1 ppm for the highest treatment). Taken together, the findings from this study suggest that LA-ICP-MS of microdissected tissue shows promise as a nondestructive technique for conservation-minded ecotoxicological studies.

SREL Reprint #2683

Jackson, B. P., W. A. Hopkins and J. Baionno. 2003. Laser ablation-ICP-MS analysis of dissected tissue: a conservation-minded approach to assessing contaminant exposure. Environmental Science & Technology 37:2511-2515.

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