Hepatic Responses of Juvenile Fundulus heteroclitus from Pollution-adapted and Nonadapted Populations Exposed to Elizabeth River Sediment Extract.
ABSTRACT: Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting the Atlantic Wood Industries region of the Elizabeth River, Virginia, have passed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) resistance to their offspring as evidenced by early life stage testing of developmental toxicity after exposure to specific PAHs. Our study focused on environmentally relevant PAH mixtures in the form of Elizabeth River sediment extract (ERSE). Juvenile (5 month) F1 progeny of pollution-adapted Atlantic Wood (AW) parents and of reference site (King's Creek [KC]) parents were exposed as embryos to ERSE. Liver alterations, including nonneoplastic lesions and microvesicular vacuolation, were observed in both populations. ERSE-exposed KC fish developed significantly more alterations than unexposed KC fish. Interestingly, unexposed AW killifish developed significantly more alterations than unexposed KC individuals, suggesting that AW juveniles are not fully protected from liver disease; rapid growth of juvenile fish may also be an accelerating factor for tumorigenesis. Because recent reports show hepatic tumor formation in adult AW fish, the differing responses from the 2 populations provided a way to determine whether embryo toxicity protection extends to juveniles. Future investigations will analyze older life stages of killifish to determine differences in responses related to chronic disease.
Project description:Historic industrial pollution of the Elizabeth River, Virginia resulted in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination in sediments. Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting the Atlantic Wood (AW) industrial site adapted to complex PAH mixture at this Superfund site. Their embryos have proved highly resistant to cardiac abnormalities indicative of PAH toxicity. In this study, embryos spawned from adults collected at AW and King's Creek (KC), a reference site, were exposed at 24 h post fertilization (hpf) to Elizabeth River Sediment Extract (ERSE), a complex PAH mixture, in a range of concentrations (0, 5.04, 50.45, 100.90, 151.35, or 252.25 µg/L total PAHs). Embryos were processed for histology at 144 hpf to enable evaluations of hearts at tissue and cellular levels. Morphometry and severity scoring were used to evaluate the extent of alterations. Unexposed embryos were similar in both populations. ERSE exposure resulted in multiple changes to hearts of KC embryos but not AW. Alterations were particularly evident in KC embryos exposed to concentrations above 1% ERSE (50.45 µg/L), which had thinner ventricular walls and larger pericardial edema. Individuals with moderate pericardial edema maintained arrangement and proximity of heart chambers, but changes were seen in ventricular myocytes. Severe pericardial edema was prevalent in exposed KC embryos and typically resulted in tube heart formation. Ventricles of tube hearts had very thin walls composed of small, basophilic cells and lacked trabeculae. Edematous pericardial fluid contained small amounts of proteinaceous material, as did controls, and was free of cells. This fluid was primarily unstained, suggesting water influx due to increased permeability. The use of histological approaches provided more specific detail for tissue and cellular effects in hearts of embryos exposed to PAHs and enabled understanding of potential links to later life effects of early life exposure.
Project description:Several locations in the Elizabeth River, VA, USA are highly contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) due to the release of creosote mixtures from wood treatment facilities. Interestingly, some populations of Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting the Elizabeth River (ER) are resistant to PAH-induced teratogenesis. However, evolutionary resistance to PAHs due to chronic PAH exposure is associated with reduced fitness and increased susceptibility to other environmental stressors in at least one PAH-resistant ER killifish population. More specifically, wild-caught and first generation PAH-resistant juvenile killifish have altered metabolic demands when compared to non-resistant fish. Herein, we investigated this association further by examining a previously under-studied population captured from the creosote-contaminated site Republic Creosoting (Rep). We assessed PAH toxicity and effects on energy metabolism in Rep killifish in comparison with killifish from the reference site Kings Creek (KC). Following exposures to simple and complex PAH mixtures, Rep killifish exhibited several phenotypes associated with PAH resistance including decreased incidences of developmental cardiovascular deformities and recalcitrant cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A) activity. We evaluated bioenergetics in killifish embryos throughout development and found elevated basal oxygen consumption rates in Rep embryos relative to KC embryos. Furthermore, juvenile F1 Rep fish had significantly lower maximal metabolic rates and aerobic scopes than KC juveniles. These results suggest that populations of killifish that have adapted or evolved to withstand the toxicity associated with PAHs consequently have altered energetic metabolism or demands. Such consequences could result in an enhanced vulnerability to other environmental and anthropogenic stressors in PAH-resistant killifish.
Project description: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.
Project description:Atlantic killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus, are adapted to creosote-based PAHs at the US EPA Superfund site known as Atlantic Wood (AW) on the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, VA USA. Subsequent to the discovery of the AW population in the early 1990s, these fish were shown to be recalcitrant to CYP1A induction by PAHs under experimental conditions, and even to the time of this study, killifish embryos collected from the AW site are resistant to developmental deformities typically associated with exposure to PAHs in reference fish. Historically, however, 90 +% of the adult killifish at this site have proliferative hepatic lesions including cancer of varying severity. Several PAHs at this site are known to be ligands for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). In this study, AHR-related activities in AW fish collected between 2011 and 2013 were re-examined nearly 2 decades after first discovery. This study shows that CYP1A mRNA expression is three-fold higher in intestines of AW killifish compared to a reference population. Using immunohistochemistry, CYP1A staining in intestines was uniformly positive compared to negative staining in reference fish. Livers of AW killifish were examined by IHC to show that CYP1A and AHR2 protein expression reflect lesions-specific patterns, probably representing differences in intrinsic cellular physiology of the spectrum of proliferative lesions comprising the hepatocarcinogenic process. We also found that COX2 mRNA expression levels were higher in AW fish livers compared to those in the reference population, suggesting a state of chronic inflammation. Overall, these findings suggest that adult AW fish are responsive to AHR signaling, and do express CYP1A and AHR2 proteins in intestines at a level above what was observed in the reference population.
Project description:The Atlantic Wood Industries Superfund site (AWI) on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, VA is heavily contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from a wood treatment facility. Atlantic killifish, or mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), at this Superfund site are exposed to very high concentrations of several carcinogens. In this study, we measured PAH concentrations in both fish tissues and sediments. Concurrently, we assessed different aspects of genotoxicity in the killifish exposed in situ. Both sediment and tissue PAH levels were significantly higher in AWI samples, relative to a reference site, but the chemistry profile was different between sediments and tissues. Killifish at AWI exhibited higher levels of DNA damage compared to reference fish, as measured via the flow cytometric method (FCM), and the damage was consistent with sediment PAH concentrations. Covalent binding of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) metabolites to DNA, as measured via LC-MS/MS adduct detection methods, were also elevated and could be partially responsible for the DNA damage. Using similar LC-MS/MS methods, we found no evidence that oxidative DNA adducts had a role in observed genotoxicity.
Project description:Altered gut microbiomes may play a role in rapid evolution to anthropogenic change but remain poorly understood. Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) in the Elizabeth River, VA have evolved resistance to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and provide a unique opportunity to examine the links between shifts in the commensal microbiome and organismal physiology associated with evolved resistance. Here, 16S rRNA sequence libraries derived from fish guts and sediments sampled from a highly PAH contaminated site revealed significant differences collected at similar samples from an uncontaminated site. Phylogenetic groups enriched in the libraries derived from PAH-resistant fish were dissimilar to their associated sediment libraries, suggesting the specific environment within the PAH-resistant fish intestine influence the gut microbiome composition. Gut metabolite analysis revealed shifts between PAH-resistant and non-resistant subpopulations. Notably, PAH-resistant fish exhibited reduced levels of tryptophan and increased levels of sphingolipids. Exposure to PAHs appears to impact several bacterial in the gut microbiome, particularly sphingolipid containing bacteria. Bacterial phylotypes known to include species containing sphingolipids were generally lower in the intestines of fish subpopulations exposed to high concentrations of PAHs, inferring a complex host-microbiome relationship. Overall, killifish microbial community shifts appear to be related to a suppression of overall metabolite level, indicating a potential role of the gut in organismal response to anthropogenic environmental change. These results on microbial and metabolomics shifts are potentially linked to altered bioenergetic phenotype observed in the same PAH-resistant killifish populations in other studies.
Project description:Anthropogenic stressors, including pollutants, are key evolutionary drivers. It is hypothesized that rapid evolution to anthropogenic changes may alter fundamental physiological processes (e.g., energy metabolism), compromising an organism's capacity to respond to additional stressors. The Elizabeth River (ER) Superfund site represents a "natural-experiment" to explore this hypothesis in several subpopulations of Atlantic killifish that have evolved a gradation of resistance to a ubiquitous pollutant-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). We examined bioenergetic shifts and associated consequences in PAH-resistant killifish by integrating genomic, physiological, and modeling approaches. Population genomics data revealed that genomic regions encoding bioenergetic processes are under selection in PAH-adapted fish from the most contaminated ER site and ex vivo studies confirmed altered mitochondrial function in these fish. Further analyses extending to differentially PAH-resistant subpopulations showed organismal level bioenergetic shifts in ER fish that are associated with increased cost of living, decreased performance, and altered metabolic response to temperature stress-an indication of reduced thermal plasticity. A movement model predicted a higher energetic cost for PAH-resistant subpopulations when seeking an optimum habitat. Collectively, we demonstrate that pollution adaption and inhabiting contaminated environments may result in physiological shifts leading to compromised organismal capacity to respond to additional stressors.
Project description:Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) inhabiting the Atlantic Wood Industries Superfund Site (Elizabeth River, Portsmouth, VA, USA) are resistant to the acute toxicity and cardiac teratogenesis caused by high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from creosote. The resistance is linked to down regulation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) pathway. We investigated the association between CYP1 activity, as a marker of potential AHR pathway suppression, and contaminant resistance in killifish subpopulations from sites throughout the estuary that varied significantly in PAH contamination level. Adult killifish and sediments were collected from seven sites across approximately 13.7 km in river length within the estuary and from a nearby reference site. Sediment PAH levels were determined using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Embryos obtained via manual spawning were exposed to individual AHR agonists and PAH mixtures 24 h post fertilization (hpf); CYP1 activity was determined by in ovo ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase (EROD) at 96 hpf, and cardiac deformity severity was scored at 144 hpf. The total PAH levels measured among the sites varied from approximately 200 to 125,000 ng/g dry sediment. Overall, the resistance to teratogenesis was strongest in the subpopulations from sites in or closest to the major PAH contamination sites, but even embryos from less-contaminated sites within the Elizabeth River demonstrated at least partial resistance to many challenges. Surprisingly, all of the subpopulations tested were highly resistant to PCB-126 (3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl). However, the degree of CYP1 activity response varied significantly among subpopulations and did not always correlate strongly with resistance to teratogenesis; some subpopulations resisted the cardiac teratogenesis caused by the challenges at doses that still elicited strong EROD induction. Our results suggest that there is variation in the adaptive phenotype exhibited by laboratory-spawned embryos from killifish subpopulations throughout the estuary. Furthermore, the results show that contaminants have affected killifish subpopulations throughout the estuary, even in sites with lower levels of PAHs.
Project description:The Elizabeth River system is an estuary in southeastern Virginia, surrounded by the towns of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. The river has played important roles in U.S. history and has been the location of various military and industrial activities. These activities have been the source of chemical contamination in this aquatic system. Important industries, until the 1990s, included wood treatment plants that used creosote, an oil-derived product that is rich in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). These plants left a legacy of PAH pollution in the river, and in particular Atlantic Wood Industries is a designated Superfund site now undergoing remediation. Numerous studies examined the distribution of PAH in the river and impacts on resident fauna. This review focuses on how a small estuarine fish with a limited home range, Fundulus heteroclitus (Atlantic killifish or mummichog), has responded to this pollution. While in certain areas of the river this species has clearly been impacted, as evidenced by elevated rates of liver cancer, some subpopulations, notably the one associated with the Atlantic Wood Industries site, displayed a remarkable ability to resist the marked effects PAH have on the embryonic development of fish. This review provides evidence of how pollutants have acted as evolutionary agents, causing changes in ecosystems potentially lasting longer than the pollutants themselves. Mechanisms underlying this evolved resistance, as well as mechanisms underlying the effects of PAH on embryonic development, are also described. The review concludes with a description of ongoing and promising efforts to restore this historic American river.
Project description:Acute effects of individual and complex mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are well documented in vertebrate species. Hypoxia in fish reduces metabolic rate and reproduction. However, less is known about the later life consequences stemming from early-life exposure to PAHs or hypoxia, particularly their co-exposure. To address this, medaka (Oryzias latipes) embryos were exposed to a complex PAH mixture sediment extract from the Elizabeth River, VA (ERSE) at concentrations of 0.1, 0.5, or 1.0% or to one of three different hypoxia scenarios: continuous, nocturnal, or late stage embryogenesis hypoxia. Co-exposures with 0.1% ERSE and each of the hypoxia scenarios were conducted. Results included decreased survival with ERSE, hatching delays with hypoxia, and higher occurrences of deformities with each. The continuous hypoxia scenario caused the most significant changes in all endpoints. These early-life exposures altered later-life growth, impaired reproductive capacity, and reduced the quality of their offspring. ERSE alone resulted in a female-biased sex ratio while continuous or nocturnal hypoxia produced significantly greater numbers of males; and co-exposure produced an equal sex ratio. Exposure to a PAH mixture and hypoxia during early life stages has meaningful later-life and next generational consequences.