Synthetic progestin etonogestrel negatively affects mating behavior and reproduction in Endler's guppies (Poecilia wingei).

Steinbach, Christoph; Císař, Petr; Šauer, Pavel; Klicnarová, Jana; Schmidt-Posthaus, Heike; Golovko, Oksana; Kocour Kroupová, Hana (2019). Synthetic progestin etonogestrel negatively affects mating behavior and reproduction in Endler's guppies (Poecilia wingei). The Science of the total environment, 663, pp. 206-215. Elsevier 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.01.276

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High rates of progestins consumption in the form of active ingredients in women's oral contraceptives and other hormonal preparations may lead to their increased concentrations in aquatic environments and subsequent harmful effect on fish reproduction. The objective of the present study was to assess the effect of etonogestrel, a third-generation synthetic progestin, on the reproductive behavior, fertility, gonads histology, and secondary sexual characteristics of male and female Endler's guppies (Poecilia wingei). Fish were subjected for 34 days to two concentrations of etonogestrel, including one possibly environmentally relevant (3.2 ng L-1) and one sublethal (320 ng L-1) concentration. A mating behavior study was subsequently conducted and revealed that the treatment with etonogestrel significantly reduced mating frequency in the exposed fish compared to controls. All the exposed females were unable to reproduce. In addition, female fish exposed to the highest level of etonogestrel were masculinized, as their anal fins and body coloration showed patterns similar to those of male fish. Etonogestrel-exposed females also had fewer developed oocytes. In conclusion, the low etonogestrel concentration (3.2 ng L-1) led to a reduction of mating activity in males without effect on their reproductive success, but it completely inhibited reproduction in females. Exposure to etonogestrel clearly has more severe consequences for females than males.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Center for Fish and Wildlife Health (FIWI)

UniBE Contributor:

Schmidt-Posthaus, Heike


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture








Pamela Schumacher

Date Deposited:

31 Mar 2020 11:42

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:37

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Fertility Gonads Mating Sexual dimorphism Steroid




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