Wastewater treatment effluent alters nucleotide excision repair in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Emily G. Notch, Gregory D. Mayer

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13 Scopus citations


Wastewater treatment effluent is a complex mixture of anthropogenic pollutants including estrogenic substances and chemicals, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons, that cause bulky DNA adducts. Significant research focuses on reproductive effects of aquatic estrogens from wastewater treatment plants. However, other studies suggest genotoxic and immunological effects occur at lower concentrations of wastewater treatment effluent than reproductive endpoints. Recently, effects of estrogen on DNA repair processes in zebrafish have been suggested as a possible mechanism by which estrogen can modulate incidence of DNA mutations. Because wastewater treatment facilities are a significant source of estrogenic compounds, we hypothesized that exposure to whole effluents would also affect DNA repair in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Exposure to effluent from multiple treatment facilities in northern Maine decreased repair of DNA adducts in zebrafish liver cells. Expression of two nucleotide excision repair genes, XPC and XPA, were quantified and showed varied response after exposure in adult male zebrafish. Evidence of estrogen and aryl hydrocarbon receptor activation after exposure varied between treatment plants and temporally within treatment plants when evaluated using a traditional biomarker, vitellogenin-1 (VTG) and, cytochrome p450 1A1 (CYP1A1) mRNA abundance. This research highlights the continuing importance of examining non-reproductive effects of wastewater treatment effluent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - C Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • CYP1A1
  • Nucleotide excision repair
  • Vitellogenin
  • Wastewater
  • Zebrafish


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