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Donald Tillitt

Adjunct Professor of Biological Sciences
Branch Chief, USGS
PhD, 1989 Michigan State University

Office: Columbia Environmental Research Center
Phone: 573-876-1886
Additional: Website
Headshot of Donald Tillitt


Research summary

Environmental toxicology, chemical effects on fish reproduction and development

Research description

I lead an active research program on the effects of chemicals on fish and wildlife, with an emphasis on reproduction and development in fish.

Our research interests focus on developmental effects of persistent chemicals in fish. Multiple levels of biological organization are generally evaluated in our research efforts, with endpoints consisting of molecular, biochemical, histology, and behavioral-level effects.

Current research projects in our laboratory include 1) effects of contaminants on visual development and linkages to behavioral deficits (predator avoidance and prey capture); 2) causes and effects of thiamine deficiencies on Great Lakes salmonines; and 3) effects of chemicals on sexual differentiation and gonad development in fish; 4) effects of atrazine on fish reproduction and development; 5) gene expression patterns along the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis of fish after methylmercury exposure; and 6) characterization of steroid hormones, gonadotrophins, and gonad development patterns in shovelnose sturgeon.

Select Publications

Select Publications

Kassotis CD, Tillitt DE, Lin CH, McElroy JA, Nagel SC: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and oil and natural gas operations: Potential environmental contamination and recommendations to assess complex environmental mixtures. Environmental Health Perspectives 2016, 124(3):256-264.

Kassotis, C.D., Bromfield, J.J., Klemp, K.C., Meng, C.-X., Wolfe, A., Zoeller, R.T., Balise, V.D., Isiguzo, C.J., Tillitt, D.E., Nagel, S.C. Adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes following prenatal exposure to a hydraulic fracturing chemical mixture in female C57Bl/6 mice (2016) Endocrinology, 157 (9), pp. 3469-3481.

Richter, C.A., Papoulias, D.M., Whyte, J.J., Tillitt, D.E. Evaluation of potential mechanisms of atrazine-induced reproductive impairment in fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) and Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) (2016) Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 35 (9), pp. 2230-2238.

Bhandari RK, Deem SL, Holliday DK, Jandegian CM, Kassotis CD, Nagel SC, Tillitt DE, vom Saal FS, Rosenfeld CS: Effects of the environmental estrogenic contaminants bisphenol A and 17α-ethinyl estradiol on sexual development and adult behaviors in aquatic wildlife species. General and Comparative Endocrinology 2015, 214:195-219.

Bhandari RK, Vom Saal FS, Tillitt DE: Transgenerational effects from early developmental exposures to bisphenol A or 17α-ethinylestradiol in medaka, Oryzias latipes. Scientific Reports 2015, 5.

Buckler J, Candrl JS, McKee MJ, Papoulias DM, Tillitt DE, Galat DL: Sensitivity of shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) and pallid sturgeon (S. albus) early life stages to 3,3',4,4',5-pentachlorobiphenyl and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-P-dioxin exposure. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2015, 34(6):1417-1424.

Jandegian CM, Deem SL, Bhandari RK, Holliday CM, Nicks D, Rosenfeld CS, Selcer KW, Tillitt DE, vom Saal FS, Vélez-Rivera V et al: Developmental exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) alters sexual differentiation in painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). General and Comparative Endocrinology 2015, 216:77-85.

Kassotis CD, Alvarez DA, Taylor JA, vom Saal FS, Nagel SC, Tillitt DE: Characterization of Missouri surface waters near point sources of pollution reveals potential novel atmospheric route of exposure for bisphenol A and wastewater hormonal activity pattern. Science of the Total Environment 2015, 524-525:384-393.

Kassotis CD, Klemp KC, Vu DC, Lin CH, Meng CX, Besch-Williford CL, Pinatti L, Zoeller RT, Drobnis EZ, Balise VD et al: Endocrine-disrupting activity of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and adverse health outcomes after prenatal exposure in male mice. Endocrinology 2015, 156(12):4458-4473.

Kassotis, C.D., Tillitt, D.E., Davis, J.W., Hormann, A.M., Nagel, S.C. Erratum: Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region ((Endocrinology (2014) 155:3 (897-90) DOI: 10.1210/en.2013-1697) (2015) Endocrinology, 156 (11), p. 4374.

Kassotis CD, Tillitt DE, Davis JW, Hormann AM, Nagel SC: Estrogen and androgen receptor activities of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and surface and ground water in a drilling-dense region. Endocrinology 2014, 155(3):897-907.

Papoulias DM, Tillitt DE, Talykina MG, Whyte JJ, Richter CA: Atrazine reduces reproduction in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes). Aquatic Toxicology 2014, 154:230-239.

Richter CA, Martyniuk CJ, Annis ML, Brumbaugh WG, Chasar LC, Denslow ND, Tillitt DE: Methylmercury-induced changes in gene transcription associated with neuroendocrine disruption in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). General and Comparative Endocrinology 2014, 203:215-224.

Brumbaugh WG, Tillitt DE, May TW, Javzan C, Komov VT: Environmental survey in the Tuul and Orkhon River basins of north-central Mongolia, 2010: Metals and other elements in streambed sediment and floodplain soil. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 2013, 185(11):8991-9008.

Tillitt DE, Giesy JP: Ecotoxicology of organochlorine chemicals in birds of the great lakes. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2013, 32(3):490-492.

Zhu W, Zajicek JL, Tillitt DE, Glass TE: TanA: A fluorogenic probe for thiaminase activity. Analytical Methods 2013, 5(2):446-448.

Richter CA, Evans AN, Wright-Osment MK, Zajicek JL, Heppell SA, Riley SC, Krueger CC, Tillitt DE: Paenibacillus thiaminolyticus is not the cause of Thiamine deficiency impeding lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) recruitment in the great lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2012, 69(6):1056-1064.

Richter CA, Evans AN, Wright-Osment MK, Zajicek JL, Heppell SA, Riley SC, Krueger CC, Tillitt DE: Paenibacillus thiaminolyticus is not the cause of thiamine deficiency impeding lake trout recruitment in the great lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2012, 69(6):1-10.

Tillitt DE, Kraft CE, Honeyfield DC, Fitzsimons JD: Thiamine deficiency: A viable hypothesis for paralytic syndrome in Baltic birds. Commentary on Sonne et al., 2012. A review of the factors causing paralysis in wild birds: Implications for the paralytic syndrome observed in the Baltic Sea. Science of the Total Environment 416:32-39. Science of the Total Environment 2012, 433:561-562.

Yuge S, Richter CA, Wright-Osment MK, Nicks D, Saloka SK, Tillitt DE, Li W: Identification of the thiamin pyrophosphokinase gene in rainbow trout: Characteristic structure and expression of seven splice variants in tissues and cell lines and during embryo development. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2012, 163(2):193-202.