Linking genotoxic responses and reproductive success in ecotoxicology

Environmental Health Perspectives
S L Anderson, G C Wild


The potential of genotoxicity biomarkers as predictors of detrimental environmental effects, such as altered reproductive success of wild organisms, must be rigorously determined. Recent research to evaluate relationships between genotoxic responses and indicators of reproductive success in model animals is described from an ecotoxicological perspective. Genotoxicity can be correlated with reproductive effects such as gamete loss due to cell death; embryonic mortality; and heritable mutations in a range of model animals including polychaete worms, nematodes, sea urchins, amphibians, and fish. In preliminary studies, the polychaete worm, Neanthes arenaceodentata, and the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans, have also shown the potential for cumulative DNA damage in gametes. If DNA repair capacity is limited in gametes, then selected life history traits such as long and synchronous periods of gametogenesis may confer vulnerability to genotoxic substances in chronic exposures. Recommendations for future research include strategic development of animal models that can be used to elucidate multiple mechanisms of effect (multiend point) at varying levels of biological organization (multilevel).


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