Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 178, Issue 1–4, pp 393–400 | Cite as

Description and evaluation of imposex in Strombus canarium Linnaeus, 1758 (Gastropoda, Strombidae): a potential bio-indicator of tributyltin pollution

  • Zaidi Che Cob
  • Aziz Arshad
  • Japar Sidik Bujang
  • Mazlan Abd. Ghaffar


Strombus canarium Linnaeus, 1758 is an important gastropod species within the study area and was traditionally collected for food by the locals. The objective of the present study is to assess the incidence of imposex and its severity in this species. Adult conchs were sampled during their main reproductive period, from October 2005 to January 2006, at Sungai Pulai estuary, Johor Straits, Malaysia. A total of 32.81% of adult females showed imposex characteristics, with varying degrees of severity though. The relative penis size (RPS) index ranged from 1.74 to 33.29 (mean = 13.40 ± 2.27, n = 21), while the relative penis length (RPL) index ranged from 6.28 to 55.19 (mean = 25.83 ± 3.33, n = 21). The use of vas deferens sequence (VDS) index was however cannot be applied as the presence of egg groove obscured any vas deferens development in affected females. Sequence of imposex (male penis) development in female conch, from merely a small stump to an advance male penis homologous was therefore carefully analyzed and described, and an alternative imposex classification scheme was proposed. S. canarium can be a good indicator for monitoring of organotin pollution within the study area. However, more studies are needed in order to further develop and test its validity and application, such as its correlation with levels of pollutant within the tissues and the environment, as well as its application on other Strombus species.


Dog conch Relative penis length (RPL) Relative penis size (RPS) Imposex scheme Strombidae 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bigatti, G., & Carranza, A. (2007). Phenotypic variability associated with the occurrence of imposex in Odontocymbiola magellanica from Golvo Nuevo, Patagonia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 87, 755–759. doi: 10.1017/S0025315407055762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bright, D. A., & Ellis, D. V. (1990). A comparative survey of imposex in northeast Pacific neogastropods (Prosobranchia) related to tributyltin contamination, and choice of a suitable bioindicator. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 68(9), 1915–1924. doi: 10.1139/z90-270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bryan, G. W., Gibbs, P. E., Hummerstone, L. G., & Burt, G. R. (1986). The decline of the gastropod Nucella lapillus around south-west England: Evidence for the effect of tributyltin from antifouling paints. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 66, 611–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chuang, S. H. (1973). Life of the seashore. In S. H. Chuang (Ed.), Animal life and nature in Singapore (pp. 150–175). Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cob, Z. C., Arshad, A., Idris, M. H., Bujang, J. S., & Ghaffar, M. A. (2008a). Sexual polymorphisms in a population of Strombus canarium Linnaeus, 1758 (Mollusca: Gastropoda) at Merambong Shoal, Malaysia. Zoological Studies, 47(3), 318–325.Google Scholar
  6. Cob, Z. C., Arshad, A., Bujang, J. S., & Ghaffar, M. A. (2008b). Sexual maturity and sex determination in Strombus canarium Linnaeus, 1758 (Gastropoda: Strombidae). The Journal of Biological Sciences, 8(3), 616–621. doi: 10.3923/jbs.2008.616.621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cob, Z. C., Arshad, A., Bujang, J. S., & Ghaffar, M. A. (2008c). On the biology and basic characteristics of the population dynamic of the dog conch, Strombus canarium Linnaeus, 1758 (Strombidae). Journal of Bioscience, 19(2), 81–97.Google Scholar
  8. Cob, Z. C., Japar Sidik, B., Mazlan, A. G., & Arshad, A. (2005). Diversity and population structure characteristics of Strombus (Mesogastropod, Strombidae) in Johor Straits. In A. R. Sahibin (Ed.), Natural resource utilization and environmental preservation: Issues and challenge (Vol. 2, pp. 198–205). Proceeding of the 2nd Regional Symposium on Natural environment and Natural Resources, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.Google Scholar
  9. deFur, P. L., Crane, M., Ingersoll, C., & Tattersfield, L. (1999). Endocrine disruption in invertebrates: Endocrinology, testing, and assessment. In Proceedings of the workshops on endocrine disruption in invertebrates, 12–15 December 1998, Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, SETAC, Pensacola.Google Scholar
  10. Ellis, D. V., & Pattisina, L. A. (1990). Widespread neogastropod imposex: A biological indicator of lobal TBT contamination? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 21(5), 248–253. doi: 10.1016/0025-326X(90)90344-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fioroni, P., Oehlmann, J., & Stroben, E. (1991). The pseudohermaphroditism of prosobranchs; morphological aspects. Zoologischer Anzeiger, 226(1–2), 1–26.Google Scholar
  12. Foale, S. (1993). An evaluation of the potential of gastropod imposex as a bioindicator of tributyltin pollution in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 26(10), 546–552. doi: 10.1016/0025-326X(93)90404-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gibbs, P. E., & Bryan, G. W. (1986). Reproductive failure in population of the dogwhelk, Nucella lapillus, caused by imposex induced by tributyltin from antifouling paints. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 66, 767–777.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gibbs, P. E., Bryan, G. W., Pascoe, P. L., & Burt, G. R. (1987). The use of the dog-whelk, Nucella lapillus, as an indicator of tributyltin (TBT) contamination. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 67, 507–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gibbs, P. E., Bryan, G. W., Pascoe, P. L., & Burt, G. R. (1990). Reproductive abnormalities in female Ocenebra erinacea (Gastropoda) resulting from tributyltin-induced imposex. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 70, 639–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gibbs, P. E., Pascoe, P. L., & Burt, G. R. (1988). Sex change in the female dogwhelk, Nucella lapillus, induced by tributyltin from antifouling paints. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 68, 715–731.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Horiguchi, T., Shiraishi, H., Shimizu, M., & Morita, M. (1994). Imposex and organotin compounds in Thais clavigera and T. bronni in Japan. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 74, 651–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ismail, A. (2006). The use of intertidal molluscs in the monitoring of heavy metals and organotin compounds in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Coastal Marine Science, 30(1), 401–406.Google Scholar
  19. Ismail, A., Ferdaus, M. Y., & Zyaizwan, Z. Z. (2004). Imposex in Thais spp. along the Straits of Malacca. In C. Nitithamyong (Ed.), Proceedings of the first joint seminar in Coastal Oceanography (pp. 189–196), 14–16 December 2003, Chiang Mai, Bangkok. Bangkok: Department of Marine Science, Chulalongkorn University.Google Scholar
  20. Jenner, M. G. (1979). Pseudohermaphroditism in Ilyanassa obsoleta (Mollusca: Neogastropoda). Science, 205, 1407–1409. doi: 10.1126/science.472758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuwamura, T., Fukao, R., Nishida, M., Wada, K., & Yanagisawa, Y. (1983). Reproductive biology of the gastropod Strombus luhuanus (Strombidae). Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, 28(5–6), 433–443.Google Scholar
  22. Nias, D. J., McKillup, S. C., & Edyvane, K. S. (1993). Imposex in Lepsiella vinosa from Southern Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 26(7), 380–384. doi: 10.1016/0025-326X(93)90185-M.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nishikawa, J., Mamiya, S., Kanayama, T., Nishikawa, T., Shiraishi, F., & Horiguchi, T. (2004). Involvement of the retinoid X receptor in the development of imposex caused by organotins in gastropods. Environmental Science & Technology, 38, 6271–6276. doi: 10.1021/es049593u.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Oehlmann, J., Fioroni, P., Stroben, E., & Markert, B. (1996). Tributyltin (TBT) effects on Ocenebrina aciculate (Gastropoda: Muricidae): Imposex development, sterilization, sex change and population decline. Science of the Total Environment, 188(2–3), 205–223. doi: 10.1016/0048-9697(96)05173-X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oehlmann, J., Stroben, E., & Fioroni, P. (1991). The morphological expression of imposex in Nucella lapillus (Linnaeus) Gastropoda: Muricidae). The Journal of Molluscan Studies, 57, 375–390. doi: 10.1093/mollus/57.3.375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Oehlmann, J., Stroben, E., & Fiorini, P. (1992). The rough tingle Ocenebra erinacea Neogastropoda: Muricidae.: An exhibitor of imposex in comparison to Nucella lapillus. Helgoland Marine Research, 46(3), 311–328. doi: 10.1007/BF02367102.Google Scholar
  27. Oetken, M., Bachmann, J., Schulte-Oehlmann, U., & Oehlmann, J. (2004). Evidence for endocrine disruption in invertebrates. International Review of Cytology, 236, 1–44. doi: 10.1016/S0074-7696(04)36001-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Purchon, R. D., & Purchon, D. E. A. (1981). The marine shelled Mollusca of West Malaysia and Singapore. Part I. General introduction and account of the collecting stations. The Journal of Molluscan Studies, 47(3), 290–312.Google Scholar
  29. Poutiers, J. M. (1998). Gastropods. In K. E. Carpenter & V. H. Niem (Eds.), The living marine resources of the western central pacific (Vol. 1, pp. 363–646). FAO 1998.Google Scholar
  30. Smith, B. S. (1980). The estuarine mud snail, Nassarius obsoletus: Abnormalities in the reproductive system. The Journal of Molluscan Studies, 46(3), 247–256.Google Scholar
  31. Smith, A. L. (1981). Comparison of macrofauna invertebrates in sand dollar (Dendraster excentricus) beds and adjacent areas free of sand dollar. Marine Biology (Berlin), 65, 191–198. doi: 10.1007/BF00397085.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stoner, A. W. (1997). The status of queen conch, Strombus gigas, research in the Caribbean. Marine Fisheries Review, 59(3), 14–22.Google Scholar
  33. Stroben, E., Oehlmann, J., & Fioroni, P. (1992). The morphological expression of imposex in Hinia reticulata (Gastropoda: Buccinidae): A potential indicator of tributyltin pollution. Marine Biology (Berlin), 113, 625–636. doi: 10.1007/BF00349706.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sudaryanto, A., Takahashi, S., Iwataa, H., Tanabe, S., & Ismail, A. (2004). Contamination of butyltin compounds in Malaysian marine environments. Environmental Pollution, 130, 347–358. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2004.01.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tan, K. S. (1997). Imposex in three species of Thais from Singapore, with additional observations on T. clavigera (Küster) from Japan. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 34(7), 577–581. doi: 10.1016/S0025-326X(97)00029-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tan, K. S. (1999). Imposex in Thais gradata and Chicoreus capucinus (Mollusca, Neogastropoda, Muricidae) from the Straits of Johor: A case study using penis length, area and weight as measure of imposex severity. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 39(1–12), 295–303. doi: 10.1016/S0025-326X(98)00181-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tong, S. L., Pang, F. Y., Phang, S. M., & Lai, H. C. (1996). Tributyltin distribution in the coastal environment of peninsular Malaysia. Environmental Pollution, 91, 209–216. doi: 10.1016/0269-7491(95)00048-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zaidi Che Cob
    • 1
  • Aziz Arshad
    • 2
  • Japar Sidik Bujang
    • 3
  • Mazlan Abd. Ghaffar
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Ecosystem Research Centre (EKOMAR), School of Environmental and Natural Resource Science, Faculty of Science and TechnologyNational University of MalaysiaBangiMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Aquaculture, Faculty of Agriculture IIUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia

Personalised recommendations