Plasma steroid hormone concentrations, aromatase activities and GSI in ranid frogs collected from agricultural and non-agricultural sites in Michigan (USA)
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The triazine herbicide atrazine has been hypothesized to disrupt sexual development in frogs by up-regulating aromatase activity, resulting in greater estradiol (E2) concentrations and causing feminization in males. The goal of this study was to collect native ranid frogs from atrazine-exposed ponds and determine whether relationships exist between measured atrazine concentrations and the gonadosomatic index (GSI), plasma concentrations of testosterone (T), E2 or 11-ketotestosterone (KT), or with aromatase activity. In the summer of 2002 and 2003, adult and juvenile green frogs (Rana clamitans), bullfrogs (R. catesbeiana) and Northern leopard frogs (R. pipiens) were collected from areas with extensive corn cultivation and areas where there was little agricultural activity in south-central Michigan. Atrazine concentrations were below the limit of quantification at non-agricultural sites. Atrazine concentrations did not exceed 2 microg/L at most agricultural sites, but a concentration of 250 microg atrazine/L was measured in one sample from one site in 2002. Plasma steroid concentrations varied among locations. Aromatase activity was measurable in less than 11% of testes in adult males, and in less than 4% of testes in juvenile males. Median aromatase activities in ovaries of adult females ranged from 3 to 245 pmol/h/mg protein, and maximum activities were 2.5-fold greater in juveniles than in adults. Atrazine concentrations were not significantly correlated with any of the parameters measured in this study. These results indicate that atrazine does not up-regulate aromatase in green frogs in the wild, and does not appear to affect plasma steroid hormone concentrations.
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