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Non-target assessment of the maternal transfer of non-polar toxic organic compounds in European eels by GCxGC-TOF and GC-FTICR-MS

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posted on 2023-01-30, 19:16 authored by Roxana SuehringRoxana Suehring, Xavier Ortiz, Miren Pena-Abaurrea, Karl Jobst, Marko Freese, Jan-Dag Pohlmann, Lasse Marohn, Ralf Ebinghaus, Sean Backus, Reinhold Hanel, Eric Reiner

Chemical pollution is hypothesized as one of the factors driving the strong decline of the critically endangered European eel population. Specifically the impact of contaminants on the quality of spawning eels and subsequent embryo survival and development has been discussed as crucial investigation point. However, so far only very limited information on potential negative effects of contaminants on the reproduction of eels is available. 

Through the combination of non-targeted ultra-high resolution mass spectrometry and multidimensional gas chromatography, combined with more conventional targeted analytical approaches, compounds of particular relevance and their maternal transfer in artificially matured European eels from the German river Ems have been identified. 

Substituted diphenylamines were, unexpectedly, found to be the primary organic contaminants in the eel samples, with concentrations exceeding 10 µg g-1 ww. Furthermore, it could be shown that these contaminants, as well as known contaminants in eel such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), are not merely stored in lipid rich tissue of eels, but maternally transferred into gonads and eggs. 

The results of this study provide unpreceded information on both the fate and behavior of substituted diphenylamines in the environment as well as their relevance as contaminants in European eels.

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