Compound- and mixture-specific differences in resistance to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCB-126 among Fundulus heteroclitus subpopulations throughout the Elizabeth River estuary (Virginia, USA).
Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting the Atlantic Wood Industries Superfund Site (Elizabeth River, Portsmouth, VA, USA) are resistant to the acute toxicity and cardiac teratogenesis caused by high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from creosote. The resistance is linked to down regulation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) pathway. We investigated the association between CYP1 activity, as a marker of potential AHR pathway suppression, and contaminant resistance in killifish subpopulations from sites throughout the estuary that varied significantly in PAH contamination level. Adult killifish and sediments were collected from seven sites across approximately 13.7 km in river length within the estuary and from a nearby reference site. Sediment PAH levels were determined using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Embryos obtained via manual spawning were exposed to individual AHR agonists and PAH mixtures 24 h post fertilization (hpf); CYP1 activity was determined by in ovo ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase (EROD) at 96 hpf, and cardiac deformity severity was scored at 144 hpf. The total PAH levels measured among the sites varied from approximately 200 to 125,000 ng/g dry sediment. Overall, the resistance to teratogenesis was strongest in the subpopulations from sites in or closest to the major PAH contamination sites, but even embryos from less-contaminated sites within the Elizabeth River demonstrated at least partial resistance to many challenges. Surprisingly, all of the subpopulations tested were highly resistant to PCB-126 (3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl). However, the degree of CYP1 activity response varied significantly among subpopulations and did not always correlate strongly with resistance to teratogenesis; some subpopulations resisted the cardiac teratogenesis caused by the challenges at doses that still elicited strong EROD induction. Our results suggest that there is variation in the adaptive phenotype exhibited by laboratory-spawned embryos from killifish subpopulations throughout the estuary. Furthermore, the results show that contaminants have affected killifish subpopulations throughout the estuary, even in sites with lower levels of PAHs.
Clark, BW; Cooper, EM; Stapleton, HM; Di Giulio, RT
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