Maternal transfer of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in an endangered elasmobranch, the Brazilian guitarfish
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Maternal transfer of contaminants is an important route of exposure for many species during embryonic development, which might compromise the organism throughout its life cycle. Here, we report the maternal offloading of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in an elasmobranch, the Brazilian guitarfish Pseudobatos horkelii. Eighteen PAHs were determined by gas chromatography in maternal liver and uterine content (uterine eggs and early-stage development embryos) samples to determine the maternal transfer rate. The mean rate of PAHs offloaded to the offspring was of 13%, with high variability among individual congener transfer (0.7-29.9%) and benzo[b]fluoranthene attaining the highest maternal transfer rates. Differential transfer rates were attributed to physicochemical proprieties of each compound, with low molecular level PAHs presenting the highest rates. A depuration mechanism in which females decrease their maternal transfer rate as a function of size, related to consecutive reproductive cycles was not properly observed in this study. From a conservation perspective, these results indicate that elasmobranchs embryos of an endangered species can be exposed to PAHs during their development and, considering the possible harmful effects of these compounds to other early life stage organisms, deleterious effects could be a possibility, although this was not analyzed herein.
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