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Temporal evaluation of estrogenic endocrine disruption markers in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) reveals seasonal variability in intersex

July 26, 2018

A reconnaissance project completed in 2009 identified intersex and elevated plasma vitellogenin in male smallmouth bass inhabiting the Missisquoi River, VT. In an attempt to identify the presence and seasonality of putative endocrine disrupting chemicals or other factors associated with these observations, a comprehensive reevaluation was conducted between September 2012 and June 2014. Here, we collected smallmouth bass from three physically partitioned reaches along the river to measure biomarkers of estrogenic endocrine disruption in smallmouth bass. In addition, polar organic chemical integrative samples (POCIS) were deployed to identify specific chemicals associated with biological observations. We did not observe biological differences across reaches indicating the absence of clear point source contributions to the observation of intersex. Interestingly, intersex prevalence and severity decreased in a stepwise manner over the timespan of the project. Intersex decreased from 92.8% to 28.1%. The only significant predictor of intersex prevalence was year of capture, based on logistic regression analysis. The mixed model of fish length and year-of-capture best predicted intersex severity. Intersex severity was also significantly different across late summer and early spring collections indicating seasonal changes in this metric. Plasma vitellogenin and liver vitellogenin Aa transcript abundance in males did not indicate exposure to estrogenic endocrine disrupting chemicals at any of the four sample collections. Analysis of chemicals captured by the POCIS as well as results of screening discrete water samples or POCIS extracts did not indicate the contribution of appreciable estrogenic chemicals. It is possible that unreported changes in land-use activity have ameliorated the problem, and our observations indicate recovery. Regardless, this work clearly emphasizes that single, snap shot sampling for intersex may not yield representative data given that the manifestation of this condition within a population can change dramatically over time.

Publication Year 2018
Title Temporal evaluation of estrogenic endocrine disruption markers in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) reveals seasonal variability in intersex
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.07.167
Authors Luke R. Iwanowicz, A.E. Pinkney, C.P. Guy, A.M. Major, K. Munney, Vicki S. Blazer, David Alvarez, Heather L. Walsh, Adam J. Sperry, Lakyn R. Sanders, D. R. Smith
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70201150
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Leetown Science Center