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More male fish 'feminized' by pollution on the Basque coast
Date:3/28/2014

ers as a result of industrial or farming activities. So, as far as the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is concerned, for example, "our main hypothesis," says Cajaraville, "is that they come from the water treatment plant. It was the first place we studied, and continues to be, by far, responsible for the highest percentage of recently appearing pollutants."

In any case, the UPV/EHU's research group found evidence of feminization in male thick-lipped grey mullet in all the estuaries analysed: in three out of the six estuaries (Gernika, Pasaia and Deba) appeared intersex fish, in other words, specimens whose testicles contained immature ova (depending on the area studied, the percentage ranged between 12% and 64%).What is more, all the estuaries have tested positive as far as the two main molecular indicators are concerned: most of the male fish (between 60% and 91%) had vitellogenin (a protein that, in principle, is only expressed in females) in the liver; in the brain, there were considerable levels of the gene expression that encodes Aromatase Cyp19a1b,a protein involved in oestrogen synthesising. Its expression in the male brain is a clear symptom of feminization.

Apart from measuring the feminization indicators in male fish populations, the research team also carried out a chemical analysis of the sampling areas: "All the time we worked in collaboration with analytical chemistry teams, and we characterised each spot from the chemical and biological points of view," stressed Cajaraville. During the 2007/2008 campaign they had the collaboration of the chemical team of the Institute of Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies of the CSIC (Spanish National Scientific Research Council); later they were assisted by the UPV/EHU's department of Analytical Chemistry. According to Cajaraville, this is a "highly significant fact, since apart from demonstrating that there are clear biological indicators of fish feminization, in each of the places studied we hav
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Contact: Oihane Lakar Iraizoz
o.lakar@elhuyar.com
34-943-363-040
Elhuyar Fundazioa
Source:Eurekalert

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