Changes in Menidia beryllina Gene Expression and In Vitro Hormone-Receptor Activation After Exposure to Estuarine Waters Near Treated Wastewater Outfalls

Bryan J. Cole, Susanne M. Brander, Ken M. Jeffries, Simone Hasenbein, Guochun He, Michael S. Denison, Nann A. Fangue, Richard E Connon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Fishes in estuarine waters are frequently exposed to treated wastewater effluent, among numerous other sources of contaminants, yet the impacts of these anthropogenic chemicals are not well understood in these dynamic and important waterways. Inland silversides (Menidia beryllina) at an early stage of development [12 days posthatch (dph)] were exposed to waters from two estuarine wastewater-treatment outfall locations in a tidal estuary, the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta (California, USA) that had varied hydrology and input volumes. The genomic response caused by endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) in these waters was determined using quantitative polymerase chain reaction on a suite of hormonally regulated genes. Relative androgenic and estrogenic activities of the waters were measured using CALUX reporter bioassays. The presence of bifenthrin, a pyrethroid pesticide and known EDC, as well as caffeine and the anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical ibuprofen, which were used as markers of wastewater effluent input, were determined using instrumental analysis. Detectable levels of bifenthrin (2.89 ng L−1) were found on one of the sampling dates, and caffeine was found on all sampling dates, in water from the Boynton Slough. Neither compound was detected at the Carquinez Strait site, which has a much smaller effluent discharge input volume relative to the receiving water body size compared with Boynton Slough. Water samples from both sites incubated in the CALUX cell line induced estrogenic and androgenic activity in almost all instances, though the estrogenicity was relatively higher than the androgenicity. Changes in the abundance of mRNA transcripts of endocrine-responsive genes and indicators of general chemical stress were observed after a 96-h exposure to waters from both locations. The relative levels of endocrine response, changes in gene transcript abundance, and contaminant concentrations were greater in water from the Boynton Slough site despite those effluents undergoing a more advanced treatment process. The availability of a widely geographically distributed estuarine model species (M. beryllina) now allows for improved assessment of treated effluent impacts across brackish, estuarine, and marine environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-223
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pollution
  • Toxicology


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