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Potential estrogenic effects of wastewaters on gene expression in Pimephales promelas and fish assemblages in streams of southeastern New York

Baldigo, Barry P., George, Scott D., Phillips, Patrick J., Hemming, Jocelyn D.C., Denslow, Nancy D., Kroll, Kevin J.
Environmental toxicology and chemistry 2015 v.34 no.12 pp. 2803-2815
Pimephales promelas, biomass, effluents, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, estradiol, estrogenic properties, fish communities, gene expression, males, messenger RNA, minnows, streams, vitellogenin, wastewater, wild fish, New York
Direct linkages between endocrine‐disrupting compounds (EDCs) from municipal and industrial wastewaters and impacts on wild fish assemblages are rare. The levels of plasma vitellogenin (Vtg) and Vtg messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) in male fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) exposed to wastewater effluents and dilutions of 17α‐ethinylestradiol (EE2), estrogen activity, and fish assemblages in 10 receiving streams were assessed to improve understanding of important interrelations. Results from 4‐d laboratory assays indicate that EE2, plasma Vtg concentration, and Vtg gene expression in fathead minnows, and 17β‐estradiol equivalents (E2Eq values) were highly related to each other (R² = 0.98–1.00). Concentrations of E2Eq in most effluents did not exceed 2.0 ng/L, which was possibly a short‐term exposure threshold for Vtg gene expression in male fathead minnows. Plasma Vtg in fathead minnows only increased significantly (up to 1136 μg/mL) in 2 wastewater effluents. Fish assemblages were generally unaffected at 8 of 10 study sites, yet the density and biomass of 79% to 89% of species populations were reduced (63–68% were reduced significantly) in the downstream reach of 1 receiving stream. These results, and moderate to high E2Eq concentrations (up to 16.1 ng/L) observed in effluents during a companion study, suggest that estrogenic wastewaters can potentially affect individual fish, their populations, and entire fish communities in comparable systems across New York, USA. Environ Toxicol Chem 2015;34:2803–2815. © 2015 The Authors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of SETAC.