Non-traditional targets of endocrine disrupting chemicals: The roots of hormone signaling

  • Fox J
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The topic of endocrine disruption and the broad range of physiological effects caused by endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can only be meaningfully framed within an ecological and evolutionary context. Environmental pollutants and EDCs operate by disrupting the "chemical communication" that coordinates signaling within an organism. Here we discuss how EDCs are also able to disrupt the chemical communication between plants and soil bacteria necessary for initiating nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. We also examine, through examples of pollutant-related impacts on a wide range of invertebrates, the need for identifying emerging targets of EDCs. We suggest broadening the defined field of endocrine disruption to encompass the effects of synthetic chemicals that interfere with signaling and communication, not only within an organism, but also between organisms and linking ecosystems. The ecological consequences of failing to recognize novel targets of chemical pollutants and EDCs may be a net loss of biological diversity and a further imbalance of the global nitrogen cycle.

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  • Jennifer E. Fox

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