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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 9;105(49):19354-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802616105. Epub 2008 Nov 24.

Maternal transfer of xenobiotics and effects on larval striped bass in the San Francisco Estuary.

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  • 1John Muir Institute of the Environment, Center for Watershed Sciences, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Aquatic ecosystems around the world face serious threats from anthropogenic contaminants. Results from 8 years of field and laboratory investigations indicate that sublethal contaminant exposure is occurring in the early life stages of striped bass in the San Francisco Estuary, a population in continual decline since its initial collapse during the 1970s. Biologically significant levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and current-use/legacy pesticides were found in all egg samples from river-collected fish. Developmental changes previously unseen with standard methods were detected with a technique using the principles of unbiased stereology. Abnormal yolk utilization, brain and liver development, and overall growth were observed in larvae from river-collected fish. Histopathological analyses confirmed and identified developmental alterations. Using this methodology enabled us to present a conclusive line of evidence for the maternal transfer of xenobiotics and their adverse effects on larval striped bass in this estuary.

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