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Ecotoxicology. 2013 Apr;22(3):538-47. doi: 10.1007/s10646-013-1046-0. Epub 2013 Feb 12.

Imposex effects on the veined rapa whelk (Rapana venosa) in Bohai Bay, China.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment, Chinese Research Academy for Environment Sciences, Beijing, China.


Environmentally relevant concentrations of organotin compounds (OTs) may trigger sex changes in marine invertebrates and pose a threat to the marine ecosystem. In this study, we investigated organotin levels and the biological responses of wild veined rapa whelk (Rapana venosa) from L├╝juhe district (LJH), Dashentang district (DST), and Nanpaihe district (NPH) in Bohai Bay, China. We found that 11.11 and 22.95 % of the veined rapa whelks from DST and NPH exhibited imposex characteristics with a relative penis size index (RPSI) of 12.50 and 12.31, respectively. The RNA/DNA ratio was significantly lower in females from DST than those from LJH (p < 0.05), and a slight increase in DNA damage was observed in females and imposex individuals compared to males. Moreover, less genetic distance occurred between LJH and NPH (0.016) than between LJH and DST (0.028), although they belonged to the same regional population. OTs analysis showed that triphenyltin chloride concentrations (41.45 ng/g dried weight) were significantly higher than tributyltin concentrations (9.51 ng/g dried weight) in tissues (p < 0.05), but no significant differences were observed in sediments (p > 0.05). In conclusion, the occurrence of imposex individuals and biological responses of the wild veined rapa whelk from Bohai Bay suggest that the marine ecosystem might be at risk.

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