Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Reproductive health and endocrine disruption in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) from the Lake Erie drainage, Pennsylvania, USA

December 4, 2021

Smallmouth bass Micropterus dolomieu were sampled from three sites within the Lake Erie drainage (Elk Creek, Twentymile Creek, and Misery Bay, an embayment in Presque Isle Bay). Plasma, tissues for histopathological analyses, and liver and testes preserved in RNALater® were sampled from 30 smallmouth bass (of both sexes) at each site. Liver and testes samples were analyzed for transcript abundance with Nanostring nCounter® technology. Evidence of estrogenic endocrine disruption was assessed by the presence and severity of intersex (testicular oocytes; TO) and concentrations of plasma vitellogenin in male fish. Abundance of 17 liver transcripts associated with reproductive function, endocrine activity, and contaminant detoxification pathways and 40 testes transcripts associated with male and female reproductive function, germ cell development, and steroid biosynthesis were also measured. Males with a high rate of TO (87–100%) and plasma vitellogenin were noted at all sites; however, TO severity was greatest at the site with the highest agricultural land cover. Numerous transcripts were differentially regulated among the sites and patterns of transcript abundance were used to better understand potential risk factors for estrogenic endocrine disruption. The results of this study suggest endocrine disruption is prevalent in this region and further research would benefit to identify the types of contaminants that may be associated with the observed biological effects.