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BioScience tip sheet, December 2008

The December 2008 issue of BioScience includes a Special Section consisting of four articles on Endocrine Disruptors in the Environment, coordinated by Louis J. Guillette, Jr., of the University of Florida. The complete list of research articles in the issue is as follows:

Meeting the Challenges of Aquatic Vertebrate Ecotoxicology.
Michael J. Carvan III, John P. Incardona, and Matthew L. Rise.

As a model organism for ecotoxicology, the zebrafish can be used to develop mechanistic models of interactions between genes and the environment that will provide a foundation for genomic resources in other fish species. The result will be integrated models that will improve diagnosis of environmental disease and ecological risk assessments.

Special Section: Endocrine Disruptors in the Environment.
Alligator Tales: New Lessons about Environmental Contaminants from a Sentinel Species.

Matthew R. Milnes and Louis J. Guillette Jr.

Environmental exposure to contaminants has affected alligators' reproductive and endocrine systems. Field and laboratory studies support a mechanism based on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which interfere with the formation of gonadal steroids such as estrogen and the development of the reproductive tract.

Of Mice and Men (and Mosquitofish): Antiandrogens and Androgens in the Environment.
Andrew K. Hotchkiss, Gerald T. Ankley, Vickie S. Wilson, Phillip C. Hartig, Elizabeth J. Durhan, Kathleen M. Jensen, Dalma Martinovic, and Leon E. Gray Jr.

Androgens are hormones essential to the formation of the male reproductive tract in vertebrates. Environmental androgens have caused adverse effects in several fish species as well as humans. Antiandrogens, which include some pharmaceuticals as well as constituents of synthetic materials and fungicides, have been shown to disrupt sexual development in mammals and fish. Some of these chemicals too are widespread in the environment.

Roach, Sex, and Gender-Bending Chemicals: The Feminization of Wild Fish in English Rivers.
Charles R. Tyler and Susan Jobling.

Male roach in English rivers often develop female characteristics, a consequence of natural and synthetic steroidal estrogens and chemicals that mimic estrogens. The toxic effects of these chemicals can alter reproductive behavior and might be reducing population sizes.

Commonality in Signaling of Endocrine Disruption from Snail to Human.
Taisen Iguchi and Yoshinao Katsu.

A ubiquitous pollutant, tributyl tin chloride, could be promoting obesity. The chemical is used in industrial water systems and wood preservatives and as a pesticide on high-value food crops. It is also found in fish and shellfish. Tributyl tin affects sensitive receptors in the cells of animals from water fleas to humans at concentrations of parts per billiona thousand times lower than pollutants that are known to interfere with sexual development of wildlife species.

"Livewood": Geomorphic and Ecological Functions of Living Trees in River Channels.
Jeffrey J. Opperman, Mark Meleason, Robert A. Francis, and Rob Davies-Colley.

Living wood within streams and rivers has a very different ecological role from dead wood. In some areas it may be key to determining geomorphic patterns and where new trees can grow. Careful consideration of the role of "livewood" is essential to understanding the development of riverscapes.

Biology Concept Inventories: Overview, Status, and Next Steps.
Charlene D'Avanzo.

Several groups of biologists and educators are now developing these compilations of key biological ideas, used chiefly to assess students' comprehension. They could also be used in a coordinated fashion to advance new approaches to teaching.


Contact: Jennifer Williams
202-628-1500 x209
American Institute of Biological Sciences

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