Forensic Markers of Lampricide Toxicity & Mortality in Non-Target Fishes

Science Center Objects

The pesticides 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol  (TFM) and niclosamide selectively target larval sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) because they have a much lower capacity to detoxify these lampricides by forming glucuronide conjugates compared to typical non-target fishes. Glucuronidation makes lampricides more water soluble and easier to excrete (Lech and Statham 1975; Kane et al. 1994). However, iflampricide uptake  overwhelms a fish's detoxification capacity, non-target mortality can result due to inhibited mitochondrial ATP production  (Birceanu et al. 2011). Non-target mortality following lampricide treatments can result from sudden drops in water pH or changes in water flow (Boogaard et al. 200; McDonald and Kolar 2007), but may go unobserved  due to time of day and/or treatment location (e.g. lentic treatments). We propose to use forensic toxicology approaches to test the hypothesis that there are readily quantifiable post-mortem markers of TFM and niclosamide toxicity in fishes that can facilitate non-target mortality investigations.


This collaborative research effort will use rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), blue gill  (Lepomis macrochirus), white sucker (Catostomus commersonii) and lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), to determine: (I) What concentrations of internal TFM/niclosamide and their glucuronide metabolites are sub-lethal or fatal in fishes, including different life stages of the lake sturgeon? (II) Which tissues (blood, liver, muscle, heart)  are most suitable for measuring post-mortem  TFM/niclosamide and their metabolites? (III) How stable are TFM/niclosamide and their metabolites in tissues following death in decomposing fish, and how is lampricide stability influenced by time, temperature, immersion (in water) or air exposure?  (IV) What sampling, handling and storage protocols should be used in the field after unexplained fish kills?

Sturgeon photo taken at Melvin Price Lock and Dam, Alton Illinois
Sturgeon photo taken at Melvin Price Lock and Dam, Alton Illinois, Aug 11th,2009 Great River Museum(Credit: Melissa Meier. Public domain.)