Purdue University Graduate School
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Toxicities of Legacy and Current Use PFAS in an Anuran: Do Larval Exposures Influence Responses to a Terrestrial Pathogen Challenge

posted on 2022-04-29, 03:09 authored by Evelyn Marlyn BarraganEvelyn Marlyn Barragan

Per-and  polyfluoroalkyl  substances  (PFAS)  are  a  large  group  of  emerging  contaminants  that include astrong carbon-flourine bond that makes the compounds resistant to physical, chemical and  biological  degradation.  They  are  found  in  drinking  water  supplies,  daily  human  products, manufacturing  facilities,  and  in  areas  where  aqueous  film-forming  foam  (AFFF)was  used  to extinguish fires. Toxicity levels of these chemicals can vary depending on the characteristics of the specific chemical; longer carbon chain has shown to be more bioaccumulative and toxic than shorter chain length PFAS. Many studies have recognized perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) to be a substantial concern due to their known toxicity to wildlife. For example, studies show strong evidence that PFOA and PFOS suppress the antibody response from animals. Due to adverse health effects and public concern, the U.S stopped perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) manufacturing and switched to the production of an alternative fluorinated compound known  as  hexafluoropropylene  oxide  (HFPO)  dimer  acid  or  GenX,  which  is  thought  to  beless bioaccumulative and therefore, potentially less toxic. These anthropogenic pollutants are one of many stressors acting on aquatic organisms like anurans. Natural stressors such as the devastating fungal  pathogen Batrachocytrium  dendrobatidis(Bd)  is  another  stressor  impacting  amphibian populations.  Despite the co-occurrence of these stressors, no studies have examined interactive effects of the fungal pathogen Bd and PFAS, or whether PFAS effects carry over into the terrestrial environment aftera larvae  exposure. This study  tested the growth and developmental effects of PFOS, PFOA, and GenX, on gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles, followed by a Bd challenge in metamorphs. Our results demonstrate that a PFAS larval exposure interacted witha terrestrial Bdchallenge to influence growth and development. Bdexposed animals were significantly shorter (smaller snout vent length)  and had a significant increase in body condition and mass. This is the first study to report effects on amphibian terrestrial life stages after larval exposure to PFAS and to report an increased sensitivity to Bd. The environmentally relevant concentrations tested in this study  (<10  parts  per  billion)  lend  ecological  significance  to  these  results  however,  additional studies are needed to understand the mechanisms behind these effects.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Forestry and Natural Resources

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Marisol Sepulveda

Additional Committee Member 2

Jason Hoverman

Additional Committee Member 3

Catherine Searle

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