Infertility in a marine crustacean: Have we been ignoring pollution impacts on male invertebrates?

G. Yang, P. Kille, Alex Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


invertebrate infertility has been under-explored as a potential ecological issue or biomarker of stress within ecotoxicology. To date, the majority of studies focussing on contaminant induced infertility have centred on vertebrate groups. This study aimed to address the question whether industrial pollution has the ability to influence the sperm counts and testicular morphology of male amphipod, Echinogammarus marinus (Leach). In addition, the sperm counts of normal and intersex specimens were compared to assess the potential impact of a crustacean with a disrupted endocrine system. Specimens of E. marinus were collected at one industrially impacted (Inverkeithing) and two reference (Thurso and Loch Fleet) sites along the north and eastern coasts of Scotland. Significantly higher sperm counts (similar to 20%) were observed from normal males collected from reference sites compared to the industrially impacted site. Higher proportions (30%) of intersex specimens were observed at the industrially impacted site compared to 17 and 6% male intersexuality observed at Thurso and Loch Fleet, respectively. Intersex male specimens from Thurso had lower mean sperm counts (similar to 15%) than normal male specimens, however, this result was not significant (P=0.089). No significant differences in sperm counts were observed between normal and intersex males at Inverkeithing. Our results indicate that industrial pollution does have the potential to affect the sperm counts of male crustaceans. Whether the quality of sperm in Crustacea from contaminated sites is also compromised or whether this is an endocrine mediated effect is yet to be confirmed. To date, many of the studies of endocrine disruption in crustaceans have, surprisingly, focussed on female fecundity parameters, growth and moulting despite many of the vertebrate studies initially focussing on the male gender. Whether this could be an ecological issue needs to be addressed through further field and laboratory based studies. It is recommended that, strategically, considerable information regarding developing methodologies could be gained from scientists working in the crustacean aquaculture industries and crustacean taxonomists. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-87
Number of pages7
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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