Water Center, The


Date of this Version



Science of the Total Environment 603–604 (2017), pp. 817–826.


U.S. government work.


Agriculturally-dominated waterways such as those found throughout the Midwestern United States often experience seasonal pulses of agrichemical contaminants which pose a potential hazard to aquatic organisms at varying life stages. The objective of this study was to characterize the developmental plasticity of fathead minnow larvae in a natural environment subject to a seasonal episodic perturbation in the form of a complex mixture of agricultural stressors. Fathead minnow larvae were maintained at the Elkhorn River Research Station for a 28-d in situ exposure to an agrichemical pulse event.Minnow larvae were sampled after 14 and 28 days to characterize developmental plasticity through growth measures and relative gene expression. Concentrations of agrichemical contaminants measured in water using polar organic chemical integrative samplers and composite sediment samples throughout the 28-d exposure were quantified using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Elevated concentrations of acetochlor, atrazine, and metolachlor were indicative of inputs from agricultural sources and were associated with reductions in body mass, condition factor, and androgenic gene expression in river exposed fatheadminnow larvae. However, following a 14-d in situ depuration during the post-pulse period, river exposed larvae overcompensated in previously suppressed biological endpoints. These results indicate that fatheadminnow larvae are capable of compensatory responses following episodic exposure to agrichemical stressors.