Research conducted in the Tyler Laboratory at the University of Exeter, with partners at Brunel University has identified the widespread disruption of sexual development in roach fish (Rutilus rutilus) in UK rivers. The Exeter team has subsequently proven that the condition arises as a consequence of exposure to wastewater effluents containing oestrogens. This work has shown that feminised males have a reduced reproductive capability with potential impacts for the sustainability of wild fisheries. The Tyler lab with collaborators at the University of Sussex has further identified the causative environmental oestrogens discharged in these waste waters. This work on roach has led to recognition internationally that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can have widespread impacts on the natural environment.
The University of Exeter's Ecotoxicology and Aquatic Biology Research Group is a large, dynamic group studying the effects of environmental pollutants on aquatic wildlife and investigating the basic physiology of fish. Key areas of its ecotoxicology work are endocrine disruption and the biological effects of nanoparticles. The work on pollutants spans studies investigating the mechanisms of effect in individuals to population-level impacts. Long-term exposure effects to environmentally relevant concentrations of pollutants and mixture effects are key themes in this work and reproduction and reproductive behaviour are the major processes studied. A wide range of in vivo and in vitro techniques are employed, including gene arrays and DNA microsatellites. The group has very extensive international collaborations with academic institutions, government bodies and industry and is well funded from a wide range of organisations including, UK Research Councils, The European Union, The Environment Agency, DEFRA, and various industries.