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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

    DAO prepress abstract   -  DOI:

    Seasonal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposures as measured by bile metabolite concentrations in white perch Morone americana from two Chesapeake Bay tributaries

    Mark A. Matsche*, Erin L. Pulster

    *Corresponding author:

    ABSTRACT: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) accumulation in the bile is a reliable biomarker of recent exposure to environmental PAH and elevated concentrations have been identified as significant risk factors for hepatic disease in some fish species. Recent surveys (spring, 2019) revealed a high incidence of hepatic lesions in white perch Morone americana from Chesapeake Bay, but this initial survey did not detect an association between PAH metabolites and lesions. Seasonal sampling of fish was extended through the winter, 2020, to increase the metabolite and hepatic lesion database and better understand annual PAH exposures to white perch. Naphthalenes, phenanthrenes, and benzo[a]pyrenes (equivalents) were analyzed in bile specimens (n=400) using high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection. Mean concentrations of metabolites were highest in fish collected from the urbanized Severn River in summer and were lowest in fish from the more rural Choptank River in winter. Variance in metabolite concentrations were primarily due to location and season. Seasonal fluctuations in water temperature, river discharge or feeding status had little influence on the pattern of metabolite concentrations observed. The results suggest higher exposures of fish to environmental PAH in the more developed Severn River with significant increases during summer, which could correspond to a spike in seasonal recreational motor boat use or other human activities. A better understanding of the factors that contribute to variability in PAH metabolism and the enterohepatic biliary circulation in white perch will improve the usefulness of biliary metabolites as a biomarker of PAH exposure in Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere.