Thiamine deficiency is responsible for reproductive impairment in several species of salmonines in the Great lakes, and is thought to be caused by the consumption of prey containing thiaminase, a thiamine-degrading enzyme. Because thiaminase levels are extremely high in dreissenid mussels, fish that prey on them may be susceptible to thiamine deficiency. We determined thiamine concentrations in lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis eggs from the upper Laurentian Great Lakes to assess the potential for thiamine deficiency and to determine if thiamine concentrations in lake whitefish eggs were related to maternal diet. Mean thiamine concentrations in lake whitefish eggs were highest in Lake Huron, intermediate in Lake Superior, and lowest in Lake Michigan. Some fish had thiamine concentrations below putative thresholds for lethal and sublethal effects in salmonines, suggesting that some larval lake whitefish may currently be at risk of at least sublethal effects of low thiamine concentrations, although thiamine thresholds are unknown for lake whitefish. Egg thiamine concentrations in lake whitefish eggs were statistically significantly related to isotopic carbon signatures, suggesting that egg thiamine levels were related to maternal diet, but low egg thiamine concentrations did not appear to be associated with a diet of dreissenids. Egg thiamine concentrations were not statistically significantly related to multifunction oxidase induction, suggesting that lower egg thiamine concentrations in lake whitefish were not related to contaminant exposure.
Additional publication details
Thiamine concentrations in lake whitefish eggs from the upper Great Lakes are related to maternal diet