The synthetic organic compound 4-nonylphenol (NP) has been detected in many human-impacted surface waters in North America. In this study, we examined the ability of NP to alter reproductive competence in male fathead minnows after a 28 day flow-through exposure in a range of environmentally relevant concentrations bracketing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency toxicity-based NP chronic exposure criterion of 6.1 ??g NP/L. Exposure to NP at and above the EPA chronic exposure criterion resulted in an induction of plasma vitellogenin (VTG) within 14 days. However, 7 days after the cessation of exposure, VTG concentrations had dropped more than 50% and few males expressed VTG above the detection threshold. All of the morphological endpoints, including gonadosomatic index, hepatosomatic index, secondary sexual characters, and histopathology, were unaltered by all NP treatments. However, when NP-exposed male fish were allowed to compete with control males for access to nest sites and females, most treatments altered the reproductive competence of exposed males. At lower NP concentrations, exposed males out-competed control males, possibly by being primed through the estrogenic NP exposure in a fashion similar to priming by pheromones released from female fathead minnows. At higher NP exposure concentrations, this priming effect was negated by the adverse effects of the exposure and control males out-competed treated males. Results of this study indicate the complexity of endocrine disrupting effects and the need for multiple analysis levels to assess the effects of these compounds on aquatic organisms. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Impairment of the reproductive potential of male fathead minnows by environmentally relevant exposures to 4-nonylphenolf