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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Alterations of secondary sex characteristics, reproductive histology and behaviors by norgestrel in the western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis).

  • Author(s): Hou, Li-Ping
  • Chen, Hongxing
  • Tian, Chang-En
  • Liang, Ye
  • Wu, Rong-Rong
  • Zhang, Xing-Mei
  • Fang, Xu-Wen
  • Zhang, Cui-Ping
  • Hu, Jun-Jie
  • Song, Li-Ying
  • Liang, Yan-Qiu
  • Schlenk, Daniel
  • Xie, Lingtian
  • et al.

Synthetic hormones in wastewater effluents released into the aquatic environments may interfere with the normal endocrine systems of fish in receiving streams. Norgestrel (NGT) is a synthetic progestin widely used in oral contraceptives and frequently detected in wastewater effluents. In this study, adult female mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) were exposed to three environmentally relevant concentrations of norgestrel (NGT) (i.e., 3.6, 35.8, and 368.0 ng L-1) for 42 d, fin morphology, histology of the ovary, and reproductive behaviors were evaluated. The results showed that NGT at all three concentrations caused an increased frequency of atretic follicular cells in ovaries and impaired mating behaviors exhibited by males toward the NGT-exposed females. In mosquitofish exposed to NGT at 35.8 and 368 ng L-1, the anal fin of females had an increased length ratio of ray4/ray 6, an increased width of ray 3, and increased number of segments in ray 3. The histopathological analysis showed that exposure to NGT increased the incidence of spermatogenesis in ovaries. Mating behavior was impaired 58.4%, 65.7%, and 76.4% (P < 0.01 in all cases) when mosquitofish were exposed to NGT at 3.6, 35.6 and 368.0 ng L-1, respectively. The rapid masculinization, the increased frequency of atretic follicles, the incidence of spermatogenesis in the ovary of female fish, and the altered reproductive behaviors suggest that wild populations of mosquitofish could be similarly affected inhabiting in NGT contaminated environments.

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