Biodiversity Science ›› 2000, Vol. 08 ›› Issue (3): 317-324.doi: 10.17520/biods.2000046

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Metallothionein diversity and its ecological service functions of invertebrates: an overview

YE Shu-Feng, LUJian-Jian   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research , East China Normal University ,Shanghai  200062
  • Received:2000-05-23 Revised:2000-06-23 Online:2000-08-20
  • YE Shu-Feng

Metallothioneins(MTs) are low molecular mass , cysteine-rich metal binding polypeptides , which have been found widely distributed in invertebrates since 1975 and established a central role in the regulation of the essential metals , zinc and copper , and the detoxification of nonessential metals , cadmium and mercury. So far , more than 60 invertebrate MTs have been reported each with two and more than two MT isoforms and variants respectively in most major invertebrate groups including nematodes , annelids , echinoderm , mollusks , arthropods , pogonophora , and crustaceans. It was reported that MTs differed significantly among invertebrate species with plentiful information of biodiversity and many kinds of ecological functions , including the following three aspects : diversity of binding metals to MTs , diversity of MT isoforms and variants , and diversity of MTs ecological service functions. Up to now , however , studies on the diversity of MTs are not enough , especially on MTs ecological service functions , so that few MTs ecological functions have been found and studied in natural populations of invertebrates. For this reason , it is important to indicate the ecological service functions on the basis of the diversity of invertebrate MTs in terms of theory and practice. The diversity of invertebrate MTs are overviewed and analyzed in this paper , and their ecological service functions are also discussed in three aspects : MTs function in detoxification and regulation of heavy metals , MTs as biomarkers in environmental monitoring , purification function of MTs in environmental heavy metal pollution and their roles in the environmental pollution management .

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