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Conserv Physiol 2022 May 17;101:coac030. doi: 10.1093/conphys/coac030.
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Petroleum-derived naphthenic acids disrupt hormone-dependent sexual behaviours in male Western clawed frogs.

Zhang WS , Farmer EJ , Muhanzi D , Trudeau VL .

Naphthenic acids (NAs), the carboxylic acids found in petroleum, are of emerging concern as they contaminate coastlines after oil spills, leech into freshwater ecosystems of oil sands areas and have wide industrial applications. They are acutely toxic in fish and tadpoles and may be endocrine disruptors at sublethal levels. We characterized androgen-dependent courtship behaviours and their disruption by NAs in male Western clawed frogs, Silurana tropicalis. Courtship primarily consists of males producing low trills and achieving amplexus, a mating position where a male clasps a female. Adult males were exposed for 5 days to 20 mg/l NA and injected with human chorionic gonadotropin to induce calling. The duration of calling activity was significantly reduced by NA exposure. Other acoustic parameters such as dominant frequency, click rate and trill length were not affected. Vocalization and amplexus were both inhibited after NA exposure and restored after 2 weeks of recovery in clean water. To determine possible disruption at the level of the testes, the effects of NA exposure on gene expression of key players in steroidogenesis was determined. Exposure to NAs decreased srd5a on average by ~ 25%. The enzyme 5α-reductase, encoded by srd5a, converts testosterone to its more bioactive form 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT), so NAs may be affecting this steroidogenic step. However, the observed upregulation of lhr, star and cyp17a1 suggests that NA-exposed males may be attempting to counteract the reduced potential to produce DHT. Yet, these NA-exposed frogs have dramatically reduced calling duration, so the observed upregulation of star and cyp17a1 is decoupled from the vocalizations. Calling duration and the ability of males to amplex females is reversibly disrupted by NA exposure, implying that environmental reduction and removal of NAs may help improve habitability of contaminated ecosystems.

PubMed ID: 35602560
Article link: Conserv Physiol

Genes referenced: cd44 cyp17a1

References [+] :
Bartlett, Toxicity of naphthenic acids to invertebrates: Extracts from oil sands process-affected water versus commercial mixtures. 2017, Pubmed