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Environmental toxicology and chemistry

Altered levels of endocrine biomarkers in juvenile barramundi (Lates calcarifer; Bloch) following exposure to commercial herbicide and surfactant formulations.


PMID 25858168

Abstract

Agricultural pesticides that are known endocrine disrupting chemicals have been detected in waters in the Great Barrier Reef catchment and lagoon. Altered transcription levels of liver vitellogenin (vtg) have been documented in wild populations of 2 Great Barrier Reef fisheries species and were strongly associated with pesticide-containing runoff from sugarcane plantations. The present study examined endocrine and physiological biomarkers in juvenile barramundi (Lates calcarifer) exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of commercial herbicide (ATRADEX(®) WG Herbicide, DIUREX(®) WG Herbicide) and surfactant (ACTIVATOR(®) 90) formulations commonly used on sugarcane in the Great Barrier Reef catchment. Estrogenic biomarkers (namely, liver vtg messenger RNA and plasma 17β-estradiol) increased following exposure to commercial mixtures but not to the analytical grade chemical, suggesting an estrogenic response to the additives. In contrast, brain aromatase (cyp19a1b) transcription levels, plasma testosterone and 11-ketotestosterone concentrations, and gill ventilation rates were not affected by any of the experimental exposures. These findings support the assertion that exposure to pesticide-containing runoff from sugarcane plantations is a potential causative agent of altered liver vtg transcription levels in wild barramundi. Whether exposure patterns in the Great Barrier Reef catchment and lagoon are sufficient to impair fish sexual and reproductive development and ultimately influence fish population dynamics remains to be determined. These findings highlight the need to consider both active and so-called inert ingredients in commercial pesticide formulations for environmental risk assessments.

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