Gene expression in caged fish as indicators of contaminants exposure in tropical karstic water bodies
Karstic areas in Yucatan are very permeable, which allows contaminants to move rapidly into the aquifer. In the present study, we evaluated gene expression of vitellogenin (VTG) and cytochrome P-450 1A (CYP1A) in caged juvenile zebrafish deployed for 15 days in 13 different water bodies, cenotes and aguadas, throughout karstic region of the Yucatan peninsula. Gene expression was evaluated using qRT-PCR. Results indicated induction of VTG in 7 water bodies with respect to reference cage. The highest relative VTG expression, about 3000 times higher than reference cage, was found in an aguada close to a cattle farm. CYP1A induction with respect to reference cage was observed in 3 water bodies, all of them located near villages or used for tourist activities. Pollutants and biomarkers of effect should be monitored in these water bodies in order to have a better understanding of the actual levels of pollutants that are present at Yucatan's aquifer and the potential risk to human and environmental health.