Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Pharmaceutical Science


Biomolecular Sciences

First Advisor

Kristine L. Willett

Second Advisor

Asok K. Dasmahapatra

Third Advisor

Bradley Jones

Relational Format



Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) that modulates aromatase enzyme function and, thus, potentially interrupts normal reproductive function. The aim of this study was to use a fish model, Fundulus heteroclitus, to assess whether BaP exposure adversely impacted reproduction. Adult fish were exposed to waterborne BaP concentrations of (0, 1 or 10 μg/L) for 28 days. Males and females were combined for the second half of the exposure (days 14-28) in order to quantitate egg production and fertilization success. Egg fertilization and subsequent hatching success of F1 embryos was significantly decreased by 10 μg/L BaP. In males, both gonadosomatic index (GSI) and plasma testosterone concentrations were significantly reduced compared to controls by 10 μg/L BaP. An increase in empty follicles and interstitial fibrosis was observed by histopathological examination of testes. Other biomarkers including male liver somatic index (LSI), liver vitellogenin (vtg) mRNA expression and sperm concentrations were not significantly affected. In females, estradiol concentrations were also significantly reduced after BaP exposure, but egg production, GSI, LSI, vtg expression and oocyte maturation were not altered. Steroid concentrations in Fundulus larvae from exposed parents at 1 and 3 weeks post hatch were not significantly changed. BaP exposure at these environmentally relevant concentrations caused negative alterations to both biochemical and phenotypic biomarkers associated with reproduction and multigenerational embryo survival.


Emphasis: Environmental Toxicology

Included in

Biology Commons



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