Evidence of feminization in wild Elliptio complanata mussels in the receiving waters downstream of a municipal effluent outfall.

Abstract : The endocrine-disrupting activity of municipal effluents has the potential to alter the reproductive system and induce feminization to aquatic organisms. The purpose of this study was to examine the sex ratio, vitellogenin (Vtg)-like proteins, serotonin, arachidonate cyclooxygenase (COX) activity and dopamine status in wild mussels living at sites upstream and downstream of two municipal effluent outfalls in the Mille-Îles River (Quebec, Canada). Gonad integrity was also studied by monitoring the gonado-somatic index (GSI), the activity of the rate-limiting enzyme aspartate transcarbamoylase (ATC) for purine synthesis, and changes in lipid peroxidation (LPO). The results showed that the proportion of females was dramatically increased from 30% at the upstream sites to 80% at the downstream sites. The levels of Vtg-like proteins were significantly elevated in the male mussels only. Male mussels downstream of the municipal effluent plumes expressed female-specific protein bands (Vtg-like), as determined by high-resolution gel electrophoresis and silver staining. The serotonin/dopamine ratio was significantly decreased in the downstream mussels, indicating that the gonad was in a state of early vitellogenesis. However, this change was not accompanied by changes in ATC, suggesting no significant egg production was underway; this was confirmed by the observation that the downstream mussels displayed significantly low GSIs. GSIs were rather dependent on the serotonin/dopamine ratio (r=0.44; p<0.001), while Vtg-like proteins were dependent on dopamine levels (r=0.50; p<0.001). The increase in COX activity at the downstream sites and its close relationship with increased serotonin levels suggest a concomitant serotonergic signalling in addition to VTG production. The production of Vtg-like proteins combined with the serotonergic effects of the municipal effluents was associated with oxidative damage (LPO) in the gonad. This study provides the first evidence of feminization in wild mussel populations and the disruption in gonad physiology by exposure to municipal effluents.
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F. Gagné, B. Bouchard, C. André, E. Farcy, M. Fournier. Evidence of feminization in wild Elliptio complanata mussels in the receiving waters downstream of a municipal effluent outfall.. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part C: Toxicology and Pharmacology, Elsevier, 2011, 153 (1), pp.99-106. ⟨10.1016/j.cbpc.2010.09.002⟩. ⟨pasteur-00722409⟩

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