Testicular oocytes in smallmouth bass in northeastern Minnesota in relation to varying levels of human activity

Sarah M. Kadlec, Rodney D. Johnson, David R. Mount, Jennifer H. Olker, Brian D. Borkholder, Patrick K. Schoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Testicular oocytes (TOs) have been found in black bass (Micropterus spp.) from many locations in North America. The presence of TOs is often assumed to imply exposure to estrogenic endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs); however, a definitive causal relationship has yet to be established, and TO prevalence is not consistently low in fish from areas lacking evident EDC sources. This might indicate any of a number of situations: 1) unknown or unidentified EDCs or EDC sources, 2) induction of TOs by other stressors, or 3) testicular oocytes occurring spontaneously during normal development. In the present study, we analyzed TO occurrence in smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) from 8 populations in northeastern Minnesota watersheds with differing degrees of human development and, hence, presumed likelihood of exposure to anthropogenic chemicals. Three watersheds were categorized as moderately developed, based on the presence of municipal wastewater discharges and higher human population density (4–81 per km2), and 5 watersheds were minimally developed, with very low human population density (0–1 per km2) and minimal built environment. Testicular tissues from mature fish were evaluated using a semiquantitative method that estimated TO density, normalized by cross-sectional area. Testicular oocyte prevalence and density among populations from moderately developed watersheds was higher than in populations from minimally developed watersheds. However, TO prevalence was unexpectedly high and variable (7–43%) in some populations from minimally developed watersheds, and only weak evidence was found for a relationship between TO density and watershed development, suggesting alternative or more complex explanations for TO presence in smallmouth bass from this region. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:3424–3435.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3424-3435
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 SETAC


  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Estrogenic compounds
  • Histopathology
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Testicular oocytes


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