Exposure to an anti-androgenic herbicide negatively impacts reproductive physiology and fertility in Xenopus tropicalis

F. Orton, M. Säfholm, E. Jansson, Y. Carlsson, A. Eriksson, J. Fick, T. Uren Webster, T. McMillan, M. Leishman, B. Verbruggen, T. Economou, C. R. Tyler, C. Berg

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Amphibians are threatened on a global scale and pollutants may be contributing to population declines, but how chemicals impact on their reproduction is poorly understood. We conducted a life cycle analysis to investigate the impacts of early life exposure to two anti-androgens (exposure until completion of metamorphosis;stage 66): flutamide, (50 µg/L)/linuron (9 and 45 µg/L)) on sexual development and breeding competence in Xenopus tropicalis. Our analyses included: mRNA levels of dmrt1, cyp17, amh, cyp19, foxl2 and ar (tadpoles/metamorphs), gonadal histomorphology (metamorphs/adults), mRNA levels of ar/gr (adult male brain/gonad/forelimb), testosterone/corticosterone levels (adult males), secondary sexual characteristics (forelimb width/nuptial pad: adult males) and breeding competence (amplexus/fertility: adult males). Compared to controls, feminised sex ratios and increased number of spermatogonia (adults) were observed after exposure to flutamide and the lower linuron concentration. Exposure to the lower linuron concentration also resulted in demasculinisation of secondary sexual characteristics and reduced male fertility. Flutamide exposure resulted in masculinisation of the nuptial pad and elevated mRNA levels of dmrt1, cyp17, amh and foxl2 in brains (metamorphs). Testosterone levels were higher in all treatment groups, however, overall few effects were observed in response to the higher linuron concentration. Our findings advance understanding of reproductive biology of X. tropicalis and illustrate negative effects of linuron on reproductive processes at a concentration measured in freshwater environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9124
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018


  • Androgen Antagonists/adverse effects
  • Animals
  • Fertility/drug effects
  • Herbicides/adverse effects
  • Infertility, Male/chemically induced
  • Male
  • Xenopus
  • Xenopus Proteins/metabolism


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