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Maria Hansson. Photo.

Maria Hansson

Senior lecturer

Maria Hansson. Photo.

Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) load, lipid reserves and biotransformation activity in migrating Atlantic salmon from River Mörrum, Sweden.


  • Maria Hansson
  • Maria Persson
  • Per Larsson
  • Torbjörn von Schantz

Summary, in English

Atlantic salmon accumulate high levels of contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their lipids during the adult growth phase spent at sea. The lipids are later utilized during migration for swimming and biological adaptations. We hypothesize that migrating salmons' biotransformation processes are affected by the high levels of built-up PCBs compared to salmon that in a pre-migrational stage. For these analyses we sampled adult Atlantic salmon during migration in the Swedish River Mörrum and measured the 21 most common PCB congeners ( summation operatorPCB) and lipid levels in muscle tissue, aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR2) and cytochrome P4501A1 (CYP1A1) transcript levels as well as ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity (EROD) in liver. We also determined which AHR2 genotypes the salmon carried. We show that EROD activity is correlated to CYP1A1 level but not to summation operatorPCB concentration. summation operatorPCB concentration does not predict levels of neither the AHR2 nor CYP1A1 genes. We find no associations between specific AHR2 transcription levels and AHR2 genotypes or a correlation between AHR2 and CYP1A1 transcription levels, which is in direct contrast to pre-migrational adult salmon from the Baltic Sea. When we compare River Mörrum to salmon we have previously sampled in the Baltic Sea we show that migrating salmon have significantly lower lipid levels in their muscles; higher muscle concentrations of summation operatorPCB on a lipid basis; and significantly lower CYP1A1 and EROD levels compared to salmon from the Baltic Sea. Also, transcript levels of three out of four AHR2 genes are significantly different. In conclusion, migrating Swedish Atlantic salmon carry higher concentrations of PCBs in their lipids compared to salmon in the Baltic Sea, but have lower activation of biotransformation genes and enzymes. Our results indicate that accumulated pollutants from the Baltic Sea are deactivated inside the migrating salmon's lipid tissues and increase in concentration when migration is initiated thereby limiting their impact on biotransformation processes.


  • Biodiversity
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • Department of Biology
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab

Publishing year







Environmental Pollution





Document type

Journal article




  • Biological Sciences
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences



Research group

  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab


  • ISSN: 0269-7491