Low dose TBT exposure decreases amphipod immunocompetence and reproductive fitness

T. Jacobson, B. Sundelin, G. Yang, Alex Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The antifouling agent tributyltin (TBT) is a highly toxic pollutant present in many aquatic ecosystems. Despite of regulations on the usage of TBT, it remains in high concentrations in sediments both in harbors and in off-shore sites. The toxicity of TBT in mollusks is well documented. However, adverse effects in other aquatic organisms, such as crustaceans, are less well known. This study is an effort to assess the effects of environmentally realistic concentrations of TBT on an ecologically important species in Swedish fresh and brackish water ecosystems, the benthic amphipod Monoporeia affinis. Field collected animals were exposed during gonad maturation to TBT (70 and 170 ng/g sediment d wt) for five weeks in static microcosms with natural sediment. Exposure concentrations were chosen to reflect effects at concentrations found in Swedish coastal sediment, but below expected effects on survival. TBT exposure resulted in a statistically significant adverse effect on oocyte viability and a doubling of the prevalence of microsporidian parasites in females, from 17% in the control to 34% in the 170 ng TBT/g sediment d wt exposure. No effects on survival were observed. Borderline significant effects were observed on male sexual maturation in the 70 ng TBT/g d wt exposure and on ecdysteroid levels in the 170 ng/g sediment d wt exposure. Both reproduction and parasite infection effects are of ecological importance since they have the potential to affect population viability in the field. This study gives further evidence to the connection between low dose contaminant exposure and increases in microsporidian parasite infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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