Assessment of Gene Expression Biomarkers in the Chilean Pencil Catfish, Trichomycterus areolatus, from the Choapa River Basin, Coquimbo Chile

Jonathan M. Ali, Angela Montecinos, Thomas T. Schulze, Luke G. Allmon, Alex T. Kallenbach, Gabrielle F. Watson, Paul H. Davis, Daniel D. Snow, Angéline Bertin, Nicolas Gouin, Alan S. Kolok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to describe changes in the gene expression in the Chilean catfish, Trichomycterus areolatus, based on their geographic location within the Choapa River. Genes of choice included those that are biomarkers of exposure to metals, oxidative stress, and endocrine disruption. Male and female T. areolatus were sampled from four sites in January 2015 differently impacted by human activities. In males, but not females, hepatic gene expression of heat shock protein (HSP70) and cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A) were significantly elevated at the site adjacent to the small city of Salamanca, relative to the other sites. In females, hepatic HSP70, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), and the estrogen responsive genes, vitellogenin (VTG) and estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), were significantly lower at the site located furthest downstream. A similar downstream pattern of lower expression levels also was found in ovarian tissue for the genes, HSP70 and ERα. Gill gene expression showed a unique pattern in females as levels of metallothionein were elevated at the site furthest downstream. While analytical chemistry of water samples provided limited evidence of agrichemical contamination, the gene expression data are consistent with an exposure to agrichemicals and metals. T. areolatus may be a valuable sentinel organism and its use as a bioindicator species in some rivers within Chile can provide considerable insight, particularly in situations analytical chemistry is limited by environmental constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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