Laboratorio de Ictiofisiología y Acuicultura, Instituto de Investigaciones Biotecnológicas Instituto Tecnológico de Chascomús "Dr. Raúl Alfonsín", IIB-INTECH (CONICET-UNSAM), Calle Intendente Marino Km. 8.200 (B7130IWA), Chascomús, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Electronic address: [Email]
Some heavy metals related to human activities were measured in the water of Chascomús lake. The maximum concentrations were: 0.23 μg/L for Cd, 4.28 μg/L for Cr, 22.09 μg/L for Cu, 2.49 μg/L for Ni, 3.24 μg/L for Pb and 210.76 μg/L for Zn. The values of Cd, Cr, Cr, Pb and Zn were above the Argentine National Guidelines for the Protection of the Aquatic life. The analysis of gonadal condition of pejerrey fish (Odontesthes bonariensis) from this lake did not revealed any reproductive damages. However, exposures with environmental concentrations of Cd, Cr, Cu and Zn under laboratory conditions of pejerrey males (14 days), caused a significant increase of the expression of the three variants of gnrh in the brain (within Cd exposure) and a decrease in cyp19a1b mRNA (within Cu exposure). Furthermore, at pituitary level, a decrease in fshb transcript levels was observed in the fish exposed to Cd and Cr and a decrease in the expression of both gonadotropin receptors at gonadal level in Zn exposure. Moreover, the gonads of the fish exposed to all the tested metals suffered structural damages showing shortness of the spermatic lobules, fibrosis, testis ova and the presence of piknotic cells. All these findings alert that heavy metals pollution affects the expression of key reproductive genes and gonadal structure of fish species that represent the predominant group of organisms and are considered sentinel species in the aquatic ecosystems.