Tuesday 6 July 2004
The Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) Institute of Zoology (IoZ) is working with Exeter and Cardiff Universities to launch ground-breaking research revealing how pollutants, such as those found in the contraceptive pill, affect fertility in fish
These pollutants are routinely released into our waterways, potentially putting native fish populations at risk.
These gender-bending pollutants alter sexual development in fish, creating so-called intersex animals that are neither male nor female. This in turn impacts on their reproductive biology and may affect the sustainability of native fish populations.
These chemicals are known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and some are already linked to breast and prostate cancer in humans. The team of scientists are using a technique that creates 'chips' of DNA to assess how chemicals affect thousands of genes. This work is being conducted in zebrafish, which have a genetic make-up with many similarities to that of humans. By using the results from this research the team hope to discover exactly how EDCs cause disruption in reproductive systems.
"Our research is very exciting and we hope to discover the exact relationship between EDC pollution in our waterways and reproductive problems in the fish that live in them" commented Dr. Katrien Van Look, postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Zoology.
The latest EDC research, with interactive displays, can be seen at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which will show how even tiny amounts of these pollutants, found in aquatic ecosystems throughout the UK and Europe, can cause decreased fertility in fish.
This research is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
For further information and images, please contact:
Nathalie Golden, ZSL Senior PR Officer
Tel: 0207 449 6280
— ENDS —