Sites along the Elizabeth River are contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from historical creosote production and other industrial processes. Previous studies have demonstrated that Atlantic killifish collected from sites throughout the Elizabeth River display resistance to the teratogenic effects of PAH-exposure in a manner commensurate with sediment PAH concentrations. The current study characterized various chemical pollutants in sediment and investigated the effects of aqueous sediment extracts from sites along the Elizabeth River to the cardiac development of Atlantic killifish embryos from fish collected from an uncontaminated reference site. Embryonic cardiac deformities were more prevalent after exposure to extracts from sites with high PAH loads. However, activation of cytochrome P4501A, a gene up-regulated by PAH-induction of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and measured using an in ovo EROD assay, did not consistently increase with PAH concentrations. This work further characterizes sediments in the Elizabeth River, as well as provides insight into the evolutionary pressures at each ER site.
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We thank Dr. Michael Unger and George Vadas of Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) for their support in collecting sediment from the Republic field site. We authors also thank Marc Gutterman (USACE) for allowing us access to the Atlantic Wood Industries site and for assisting with sediment collection.
This work was funded by the NIEHS-sponsored Duke University Superfund Research Center (P42ES010356).
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Volkoff, S.J., Osterberg, J.S., Jayasundara, N. et al. Embryonic Fundulus heteroclitus responses to sediment extracts from differentially contaminated sites in the Elizabeth River, VA. Ecotoxicology 28, 1126–1135 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-019-02116-z
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- CYP P4501A
- Aryl hydrocarbon receptor