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Aquat Toxicol. 2006 Jun 10;78(1):91-102. Epub 2006 Feb 21.

The fathead minnow in aquatic toxicology: past, present and future.

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  • 1US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Mid-Continent Ecology Division, Duluth, MN 55804, USA.


This paper reviews the roles of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) as a small fish model in the field of aquatic toxicology. The species has been (and is) extensively used both for regulatory testing and research, especially in North America. For example, tests with the fathead minnow, ranging from 48-h lethality through partial and full life-cycle assays, are routinely used for regulatory programs aimed at assessing potential risks of new chemicals such as high-production volume materials and pesticides, as well as impacts of complex mixtures like effluents. The species also has been used for a wide variety of research applications focused on topics like the development of quantitative structure-activity relationship models, mixture toxicity, extrapolation of the effects of chemicals across species, and understanding the results of laboratory assays relative to impacts in the field. Attributes of the fathead minnow also make it an excellent model for addressing new challenges in aquatic toxicology, including identification of sensitive life-stages/endpoints for chemicals with differing modes/mechanisms of action, predicting population-level effects based on data collected from lower levels of biological organization, and exploring/understanding the emerging role of genomics in research and regulation.

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