Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

Screening the foods of an endangered parrot, the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), for oestrogenic activity using a recombinant yeast bioassay

Andrew E. Fidler, Sharon Zwart, Richard P. Pharis, Roderick J. Weston, Stephen B. Lawrence, Paul Jansen, Graeme Elliott and Donald V. Merton

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 12(4) 191 - 199
Published: 2000


In recent years the possibility of environmental oestrogens affecting the reproduction of vertebrates has become an issue of both public and scientific interest. Although the significance of such chemicals remains controversial there is clear evidence that, in some contexts, environmental oestrogens can influence the fertility of vertebrates. Highly endangered species represent a situation in which even modest reductions in the fertility of key individuals may have implications for the survival of the entire species. This paper reports the screening of both natural and supplementary foods of the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), a critically endangered New Zealand nocturnal parrot, for oestrogenic activity using a recombinant yeast based bioassay. Low levels of oestrogenic activity were detected in one of the ‘chick-raising’ foods, but no oestrogenic activity was detected in the adult supplementary foods. The oestrogenicity of a range of phytochemicals possibly associated with the kakapo natural diet was also examined. Two such phytochemicals, podocarpic acid and its reduced derivative podocarpinol, showed weak oestro-genic activity (approximately 10 –6 and 10 –4 of the activity of 17-b -oestradiol, respectively).

Keywords: avian, diet, environmental oestrogens, phytohormone, reproduction,environment

© CSIRO 2000

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