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      Hermaphroditic, demasculinized frogs after exposure to the herbicide atrazine at low ecologically relevant doses

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          Abstract

          Atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. and probably the world. It can be present at several parts per million in agricultural runoff and can reach 40 parts per billion (ppb) in precipitation. We examined the effects of atrazine on sexual development in African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis). Larvae were exposed to atrazine (0.01-200 ppb) by immersion throughout larval development, and we examined gonadal histology and laryngeal size at metamorphosis. Atrazine (> or =0.1 ppb) induced hermaphroditism and demasculinized the larynges of exposed males (> or =1.0 ppb). In addition, we examined plasma testosterone levels in sexually mature males. Male X. laevis suffered a 10-fold decrease in testosterone levels when exposed to 25 ppb atrazine. We hypothesize that atrazine induces aromatase and promotes the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This disruption in steroidogenesis likely explains the demasculinization of the male larynx and the production of hermaphrodites. The effective levels reported in the current study are realistic exposures that suggest that other amphibian species exposed to atrazine in the wild could be at risk of impaired sexual development. This widespread compound and other environmental endocrine disruptors may be a factor in global amphibian declines.

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          Most cited references 40

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          Quantitative evidence for global amphibian population declines.

          Although there is growing concern that amphibian populations are declining globally, much of the supporting evidence is either anecdotal or derived from short-term studies at small geographical scales. This raises questions not only about the difficulty of detecting temporal trends in populations which are notoriously variable, but also about the validity of inferring global trends from local or regional studies. Here we use data from 936 populations to assess large-scale temporal and spatial variations in amphibian population trends. On a global scale, our results indicate relatively rapid declines from the late 1950s/early 1960s to the late 1960s, followed by a reduced rate of decline to the present. Amphibian population trends during the 1960s were negative in western Europe (including the United Kingdom) and North America, but only the latter populations showed declines from the 1970s to the late 1990s. These results suggest that while large-scale trends show considerable geographical and temporal variability, amphibian populations are in fact declining--and that this decline has been happening for several decades.
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            Declining amphibian populations.

             David Wake (1991)
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              Endocrine disruption in wildlife: a critical review of the evidence.

              In recent years, a number of man-made chemicals have been shown to be able to mimic endogenous hormones, and it has been hypothesized that alterations in the normal pattern of reproductive development seen in some populations of wildlife are linked with exposure to these chemicals. Of particular importance are those compounds that mimic estrogens and androgens (and their antagonists), because of their central role in reproductive function. In fact, the evidence showing that such chemicals actually do mimic (or antagonize) the action of hormones in the intact animal is limited. In only a few cases have laboratory studies shown that chemicals that mimic hormones at the molecular level (in vitro) also cause reproductive dysfunction in vivo at environmentally relevant concentrations. In addition, the reported studies on wild populations of animals are limited to a very few animal species and they have often centered on localized 'hot-spots' of chemical discharges. Nevertheless, many of these xenobiotics are persistent and accumulate in the environment, and therefore a more widespread phenomenon of endocrine disruption in wildlife is possible. This article reviews the evidence, from both laboratory and field studies, that exposure to steroid hormone mimics may impair reproductive function and critically assesses the weight of evidence for endocrine disruption in wildlife.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                April 16 2002
                April 16 2002
                : 99
                : 8
                : 5476-5480
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.082121499
                122794
                11960004
                © 2002
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