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A three‐generational study of in ovo exposure to PBDE‐99 in the zebra finch

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Based on a literature review of avian data for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), ecologically relevant doses, low (10 ng/egg), medium (100 ng/egg), and high (1,000 ng/egg) of the 2,2',4,4',5‐pentabromodiphenyl ether (BDE‐99) congener along with dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) control were injected into the yolk sac of un‐incubated eggs of zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata. Offspring development and adult phenotype were followed over three generations. No effects of in ovo PBDE exposure on hatching success, chick growth, thyroid hormone levels, or hematological traits were measured at sexual maturity (90 d posthatching). However, we did detect significant effects of BDE‐99 treatment on adult phenotype of in ovo–exposed birds by breeding observations, in which clutch size was significantly smaller in all PBDE‐dosed birds (low, medium, and high) compared with controls. A trend was also seen for longer laying intervals in PBDE‐dosed birds (13–14 d) compared with control birds (8 d). In addition, a significant effect of PBDE was found on growth of the second‐generation offspring of in ovo–treated females; body mass was significantly lower in the high‐PBDE dosed birds compared with controls from hatch through to fledging (day 30). We found no evidence of effects over the longer term and in successive generations, whether in adult, reproductive phenotype of the second‐generation offspring of in ovo–treated birds, or in the growth of their (third‐generation) offspring. Our results suggest that egg levels as low as 10 ng/g BDE‐99 may affect reproduction in small passerines by reducing clutch size. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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