Costigan SL, Werner J, Ouellet JD, Hill LG, Law RD.
Aquat Toxicol. 2012 Jun 1;122-123C:44-55. [Epub ahead of print]
Department of Biology, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1, Canada.
Many studies link pulp and paper mill effluent (PPME) exposure to adverse effects in fish populations present in the mill receiving environments. These impacts are often characteristic of endocrine disruption and may include impaired reproduction, development and survival. While these physiological endpoints are well-characterized, the molecular mechanisms causing them are not yet understood. To investigate changes in gene transcription induced by exposure to a PPME at several stages of treatment, male and female fathead minnows (FHMs) were exposed for 6days to 25% (v/v) secondary (biologically) treated kraft effluent (TK) or 100% (v/v) combined mill outfall (CMO) from a mill producing both kraft pulp and newsprint. The gene expression changes in the livers of these fish were analyzed using a 22K oligonucleotide microarray. Exposure to TK or CMO resulted in significant changes in the expression levels of 105 and 238 targets in male FHMs and 296 and 133 targets in females, respectively. Targets were then functionally analyzed using gene ontology tools to identify the biological processes in fish hepatocytes that were affected by exposure to PPME after its secondary treatment. Proteolysis was affected in female FHMs exposed to both TK and CMO. In male FHMs, no processes were affected by TK exposure, while sterol, isoprenoid, steroid and cholesterol biosynthesis and electron transport were up-regulated by CMO exposure. The results presented in this study indicate that short-term exposure to PPMEs affects the expression of reproduction-related genes in the livers of both male and female FHMs, and that secondary treatment of PPMEs may not neutralize all of their metabolic effects in fish. Gene ontology analysis of microarray data may enable identification of biological processes altered by toxicant exposure and thus provide an additional tool for monitoring the impact of PPMEs on fish populations.