Hypoxia causes transgenerational impairments in reproduction of fish

Simon Yuan Wang, Karen Lau, Keng Po Lai, Jiang Wen Zhang, Anna Chung Kwan Tse, Jing Woei Li, Yin Tong, Ting Fung Chan, Chris K C WONG, Man Ying CHIU, Doris Wai Ting Au, Alice Sze Tsai Wong, Richard Yuen Chong Kong, Rudolf Shiu Sun Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)


Hypoxia is amongst the most widespread and pressing problems in aquatic environments. Here we demonstrate that fish (Oryzias melastigma) exposed to hypoxia show reproductive impairments (retarded gonad development, decrease in sperm count and sperm motility) in F1 and F2 generations despite these progenies (and their germ cells) having never been exposed to hypoxia. We further show that the observed transgenerational reproductive impairments are associated with a differential methylation pattern of specific genes in sperm of both F0 and F2 coupled with relevant transcriptomic and proteomic alterations, which may impair spermatogenesis. The discovered transgenerational and epigenetic effects suggest that hypoxia might pose a dramatic and long-lasting threat to the sustainability of fish populations. Because the genes regulating spermatogenesis and epigenetic modifications are highly conserved among vertebrates, these results may also shed light on the potential transgenerational effects of hypoxia on other vertebrates, including humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12114
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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