• fish;
  • endocrine disruption;
  • estrogen;
  • resorcyclic acid lactones;
  • Fusarium spp


Zearalenone (ZON) is one of the worldwide most common mycotoxin and exhibits estrogenic activity in the range of natural steroid estrogens. The occurrence of ZON has been reported in soil, drainage water, wastewater effluents, and rivers, but its ecotoxicological effects on fish have hardly been investigated. The consequences of continuous long-term ZON exposure, including a subsequent depuration period, as well as transgenerational effects of F0 short-term exposure on F1 generation were investigated. Effects on growth, reproduction activity, physiology, and morphology of zebrafish (Danio rerio) were examined in a 182 day live-cycle experiment. Life-long exposure to ZON for 140 days increased wet weight, body length, and condition factor of female fish at 1000 ng/L, and sex ratio was shifted toward female from 320 ng/L ZON. Only females at 1000 ng/L ZON revealed a 1.5-fold induction of plasma vitellogenin (VTG). Relative fecundity at 1000 ng/L recovered significantly during the depuration period. An increased condition factor in adult female F1 fish implies that exposure of F0 generation to 1000 ng/L ZON affected growth of F1 generation. A negative correlation between relative fecundity in the F1 generation (all groups exposed to 320 ng/L ZON) and the nominal ZON concentrations of the F0 exposure might indicate an influence of F0 exposure on reproductive performance of F1 generation. No exposure scenario affected fertility, hatch, embryo survival, and gonad morphology of zebrafish. Evaluating the environmental relevance of this data, the risk for fish to be harmed by exposure to ZON solely seems rather marginal, but ZON might contribute to the overall estrogenicity in the environment. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 2013.