DDT polluted meltwater affects reproduction in the mussel Dreissena polymorpha.
The zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha was used to follow the recently reported DDT pollution of Lake Iseo (N. Italy). Histopathological analyses were performed on mussels sampled from March 2005 to April 2006, when high DDT levels were found, and results were compared to those from mussels sampled in 2001/2002, before the pollution event. During the 2005/2006 reproductive season, the first male gamete release happened one month later than the onset of spawning in females who showed a high number of specimens with degenerating oocytes, despite a regular pattern of gametogenesis. These results indicated a disrupting action of DDT on the mechanisms involved in sperm release, and a disturbance in the gametogenic phases of the ovary. Pathological pictures in the digestive gland of many mussels from both 2001/2002 and 2005/2006 have also been observed, but DDT pollution is unable to explain the presence of pathological fields in mussels during 2001/2002, for which a previously reported contamination seems to be the main cause. A possible role of DDT in skewing the sex ratio towards a predominance of females was also discussed, considering the high number of females sampled in 2005/2006.