Environmental toxicology and chemistry vol:25 issue:9 pages:2388-2393
Methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE), an anthropogenic chemical used as a gasoline additive, is being detected at an increasing frequency in the environment. The acute lethal concentration that kills 50% of the fish test population and the chronic effects of exposure to MTBE were investigated in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Chronic exposure over three weeks to effective MTBE concentrations as low as 0.11 mg/L induced a significant increase in the vitellogenin concentration of male fish. The impact of a chronic, eight-week exposure at effective concentrations ranging from 0.44 to 220 mg/L had no significant effect on fecundity, fertilization, or hatch rate but highly significant impacts on sperm motility. Spermatozoa of all MTBE-exposure groups showed a significantly lower straight-line velocity and lower average path velocity compared to those of the nonexposed group. These results suggest that chronic exposure to MTBE negatively affects fish sperm motility at concentrations that are environmentally relevant and several orders of magnitude lower than concentrations inducing acute effects.