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Organohalogenated contaminants in plasma and eggs of rockhopper penguins: Does vitellogenin affect maternal transfer?

Dehnhard, Nina, Jaspers, Veerle L.B., Demongin, Laurent, Van den Steen, Evi, Covaci, Adrian, Pinxten, Rianne, Crossin, Glenn T., Quillfeldt, Petra, Eens, Marcel, Poisbleau, Maud
Environmental pollution 2017
DDT (pesticide), Eudyptes, HCH (pesticide), breeding, diet, eggs, females, hexachlorobenzene, hydroxyl radicals, islands, penguins, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, temporal variation, vitellogenin, Falkland Islands
Although many studies have investigated organohalogenated contaminants (OHCs) in yolk, little is known about the mechanisms and timing of transfer of OHCs from the female to the egg. Vitellogenin, a yolk precursor, has been suggested to play a role in this transport.We here report for the first time the temporal changes in OHC and an index of vitellogenin concentrations in female plasma from the pre-laying period to clutch completion in free-living birds: the southern rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome) breeding in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. In addition, OHC concentrations in the corresponding clutches were analysed. OHC concentrations in female plasma and in the yolk of both the first (A-) and the second (B-)eggs followed a similar pattern, with hexachlorobenzene (HCB) > Σpolychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) > Σdichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDTs) > Σmethoxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (MeO-PBDEs) > Σchlordanes (CHLs) > Σpolybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) ≈ Σhexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs). The higher concentrations of MeO-PBDEs compared to PBDEs indicate a diet containing naturally-produced MeO-PBDEs. All OHC compounds except for PBDEs increased from the pre-laying period to A-egg laying and subsequently declined from A-egg laying to B-egg laying, and female plasma vitellogenin showed the same pattern. For ΣPCBs and ΣMeO-PBDEs, we found positive correlations between female plasma during A-egg laying and both eggs, and for HCB between female plasma and A-eggs only. During pre-laying, only ΣMeO-PBDEs correlated between both eggs and female plasma, and no correlations between OHC concentrations in eggs and female plasma were found during B-egg laying, highlighting that maternal transfer of OHCs is time- and compound-specific. Finally, female vitellogenin concentrations did not significantly correlate with any OHC compounds in either female plasma or eggs, and our results therefore did not confirm the suggested role of vitellogenin in the maternal transfer of OHC molecules into their eggs.