John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Phytoestrogens in the environment: I. Occurrence and exposure effects on fathead minnows

Naturally occurring phytoestrogens may mimic biogenic estrogens and modulate endocrine action in vertebrates. Little is known about their temporal and spatial variability in the environment and the biological effects associated with exposures. The present study assessed the environmental presence of phytoestrogens in human‐impacted and relatively pristine areas. The response in larval and sexually mature fathead minnows to environmentally relevant concentrations of three common phytoestrogens (genistein, daidzein, and formononetin) singly and in mixture was also quantified. Phytoestrogens were only present in the human‐impacted surface waters. When detected, mean concentrations were low, (± standard deviation) 1.4 ± 0.5 ng/L, 1.6 ± 0.7 ng/L, and 1.1 ± 0.2 ng/L for genistein, daidzein, and formononetin, respectively, in an urban lake, and 1.6 ± 0.4 ng/L, 1.8 ± 1.3 ng/L, and 2.0 ng/L in treated wastewater effluent. Biochanin A was detected twice while zearalenone and coumestrol were never detected. No clear temporal trends of aqueous phytoestrogen concentration were evident. Larval survival was significantly reduced in genistein, formononetin and mixture treatments while adult male fish only exhibited subtle changes to their anatomy, physiology and behavior. Daidzein exposed adult females produced greater quantities of eggs. The present study indicates that genistein, daidzein, and formononetin are likely rapidly attenuated and are unlikely to cause widespread ecological harm in the absence of other stressors. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2013 SETAC

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