Gene transcription profiling in wild and laboratory-exposed eels: Effecto of captivity and in situ chronic exposure to pollution


Aquatic ecosystems are subjected to a variety of man-induced stressors but also vary spatially and temporally due to variation in natural factors. In such complex environments, it remains difficult to detect, dissociate and evaluate the effects of contaminants in wild organisms. In this context, the aim of this study was to test whether the hepatic transcriptome profile of fish may be used to detect in situ exposure to a particular contaminant. Transcriptomic profiles from laboratory-exposed and wild eels sampled along a contamination gradient were compared. During laboratory experiments, fish were exposed during 45 days to different pollutants (Hg, PCBs, OCPs or Cd) or natural factors (temperature, salinity or low food supply) at levels close to those found in the sampling sites. A strong difference was observed between the transcriptomic profiles obtained from wild and laboratory-exposed animals (whatever the sites or experimental conditions), suggesting a general stress induced by captivity in the laboratory. Among the biological functions that were up-regulated in laboratory eels in comparison to wild eels, histone modification was the most represented. This finding suggests that laboratory conditions could affect the epigenome of fish and thus modulate the transcriptional responses developed by fish in response to pollutant exposure. Among experimental conditions, only the transcription profiles of laboratory animals exposed to cold temperature were correlated with those obtained from wild fish, and more significantly with fish from contaminated sites. Common regulated genes were mainly involved in cell differentiation and liver development, suggesting that stem/progenitor liver cells could be involved in the adaptive response developed by fish chronically exposed to pollutant mixtures.


Lucie Baillona,b, Fabien Pierrona,b, Pauline Pannetierc, Eric Normandeaud, Patrice Couturec, Pierre Labadiea,b, Hélène Budzinskia,b, Patrick Lamberte, Louis Bernatchezd, Magalie Baudrimonta,b

  • a. Univ. Bordeaux, UMR EPOC CNRS 5805, F-3340 Talence, France
  • b. CNRS, EPOC, UMR 5805, F-33400 Talence, France
  • c. Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Centre Eau Terre Environnement, 490 de la Couronne, Québec (Québec) G1K 9A9, Canada
  • d. Département de biologie, Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS), Université Laval, Québec (Québec) G1V 0A6, Canada
  • e. Irtsea, UR EABX, 50 avenue de Verdun-Gazinet, 33612 Cestas, France


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