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Effects of lipophilic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on the reproduction of egg laying organisms


Several investigations during the last 10 years have clearly shown that several bird an fish species, inhabiting areas which is influenced of human activities in the large seal perspective, shows a reproduction outcome with severe disorders.
High mortality with number of sublethal disturbances at the subcellular, cellular, tissue/organ and individual level is frequently observed among the offspring. A number of disorders are common for both bird and fish and these are in the same time known to be correlated with a deficiency i thiamine (vitamine B1), such as retarded growth, edema, hemmorage, neurological disorder and various deformities.

In several salmonid species in Europe and North-America has the mortality been clearly connected to a deficiency in thiamine among the offspring. These finding is going to be very essential "tool" to investigate and possibly clarify the underlying reasons for the, observed disorders in these species. However, for bird species has the possible correlation between thiamine deficiency and reproductive disorders to our knowledge not been investigated, although a connection to environmental pollutants is strongly suggested. Certain pollutants may, during their metabolism, interact directly or indirectly with thiamin, resulting in decreasing thiamin levels in the organisms. Thiamin, which belongs to the essential vitamins is very limited investigated with respect to its possible interactions with environmental pollutants. However, among the dozen or so xenobioticc (including known POPs e.g. nitrobenzenes, PCB, Dieldrin, Paration etc.) which have beer investigated in mammalian systems for their potential to interact with thiamin, around half of them show such effects.
In this project we want to make lipophilic extracts from whole animal samples of top-predator birds (guillemots) and fish (salmon), which feed in pristine areas of the Baltic, North Sea and North-East Atlantic (control). These extracts will be subjected to advanced chemical fractionation (HPLC and PPC-GC) followed by screening of biological potency of the various fractions respectively. For the screening of the biological potency a set of carefully selected end-points of a bird egg- (domestic chicken) test system and a fish egg(salmon and trout) test system has been chosen. Finally, when a potent fraction has been defined, (after repeated fractionation followed by biological screening, again followed by repeated re-fractionation of potent fractions, again followed by biological screening etc.) the potent fraction will be subjected to chemical identification and structure evaluation of unknown pollutants/pollutant-groups and analysis of known pollutants by the use of modern micro NMR spectroscopy HRGC/FTIR and HRGC/HRMS.

The most significant criterion for a healthy, properly functioning ecosystem is that the different species living in it have the capacity to reproduce in a normal manner. Disturbances of the reproductive capacity of one or several species are therefore probably the most serious threat a ecosystem can face. Knowledge about the pollutants responsible for these disturbances will form the basis for preventative actions, e.g. regulation of existing commercial chemicals and pollutants emitted from industrial processes. Improved risk identification and assessment methods for new and existing chemicals will protect and improve the quality of the environment. The project will contribute towards protecting the environment and human health, and, in the longer run, will protect the living standards of all regions of Europe.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


5,Frescativaegen 50
106 91 Stockholm

Participants (3)

Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek

6700 AA Wageningen

5392 Storeboe
University of Jyväskylä
9,Survontie 9
40351 Jyväskylä