TBT effects on the female genital system of Littorina littorea: a possible indicator of tributyltin pollution

  • Barbara Bauer
  • Pio Fioroni
  • Imke Ide
  • Stefanie Liebe
  • Jörg Oehlmann
  • Eberhard Stroben
  • Burkard Watermann
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 111)


Specimens of the prosobranch Littorina littorea (L., 1758) collected along the East Frisian North Sea coast in summer 1993 exhibited alterations of the palliai oviduct termed as intersex in response to tributyltin (TBT) pollution. The range of TBT body burden was between 150.9 and 1289.5 μ;g as Sn kg-1 (dry wt.). Five stages of intersex development (0–4) could be distinguished and are documented with scanning electron micrographs. In stages 2–4, which can be found in the direct vicinity of harbours and marinas, the morphological malformations of the oviduct inhibit successful copulation and capsule formation, resulting in sterilization.

The intersex index (ISI, calculated as the average intersex stage of a population) and the average prostate length of females were used as parameters for the determination of intersex intensities in the populations. Both indices show significant and positive correlations to the TBT body burden of L. littorea and are promising parameters for TBT biomonitoring. A comparison of TBT bioconcentration factors with populations from England and France indicates that the threshold concentration for intersex development is in the range of 15 ng TBT as Sn/1.

Morphometric analyses of the midgut gland revealed no significant differences between sampling stations. In the ovary a retardation and blockage of maturation (atresia) was observed in populations close to harbours. Lytic processes in ovary follicles were observed not only at TBT exposed sites but also at reference stations.

Key words

Littorina littorea reproductive failure TBT contamination biomonitoring antifouling paints histopathology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Bauer
    • 1
  • Pio Fioroni
    • 1
  • Imke Ide
    • 2
  • Stefanie Liebe
    • 2
  • Jörg Oehlmann
    • 3
  • Eberhard Stroben
    • 1
  • Burkard Watermann
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Vergleichende EmbryologieMünsterGermany
  2. 2.LimnoMarAhrensburgGermany
  3. 3.Internationales HochschulinstitutZittauGermany

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