Methoprene was a constituent of the pesticide cocktail applied to the Western Long Island Sound (WLIS) watershed area during the summer of 1999. Subsequently, the seasonal lobster catches from the WLIS have decreased dramatically. We have been engaged in ongoing studies of the effects of methoprene on larval, juvenile and adult lobsters. Most recently, we found that Stage IV larvae exposed to 50 ppb methoprene experience >90% mortality rate after 3 days. Bioaccumulation studies on adult lobsters showed that methoprene concentrated against the gradient of the surrounding seawater (50 ppb) in hepatopancreas (1.55 ppm), gonad (5.18 ppm), epithelial tissue (6.17 ppm) and, most significantly, the eyestalks (28.83 ppm). Exposure to methoprene altered the expression of the stress proteins and the pattern of ubiquitinylation of cytosolic proteins by Day 1 Stage I larvae and by epithelial tissue of postmolt juvenile lobsters. Postmolt juvenile animals also demonstrated an altered pattern of protein phosphorylation in their epithelial tissues following methoprene exposure, indicating that it may interfere with cell signaling pathways. Increasing concentrations of methoprene were associated with increasing chitoproteins in the microsomal fractions of Day 1 Stage I larvae, suggesting that methoprene may compromise the exocytosis of shell matrix precursors from the epithelial cells. Methoprene did not, however, alter the activity of chitin synthase in these larvae. Although it is likely that a combination of harmful events and exposures led to the reduced lobster population in WLIS, methoprene may have contributed to the decline both by direct toxic effects and by disrupting homeostatic processes.
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Vol. 24 • No. 3