Fish cultivation in rice fields is a valuable resource in some rural areas of the world. Fish is a source of protein and an additional source of income for local farmers. However, the use of pesticides may impact fish and consumer health. The aim of this study was to evaluate exposure and effect biomarkers in native fish inhabiting a rice field during a production cycle. Samples of fish, water and sediment from a rice field in Santa Fe, Argentina were collected during a cultivation season (at the beginning: November 2017, in the middle: December 2017 and at the end: February 2018). At each sampling period, fish biomarkers of effect (biometric indices, hematological parameters, energy reserves, oxidative stress and neurotoxicity) were assessed together with pesticide screening in water, sediment, and fish samples. Only herbicides were present in water and sediment samples in agreement with land treatment before rice sowing stage, where only herbicides were applied. In general, the greatest water concentrations of bentazone, glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), and the lowest sediment glyphosate and AMPA levels were observed at the beginning of the farming cycle. Fish bioaccumulated AMPA residues at all sampling periods and showed biological responses to cope with a stressful environment. Alterations in hematological parameters, mobilization of energetic reserves and activation of the antioxidant system were detected. However, no oxidative damage nor neurotoxic effects were present along the production cycle. Under a real exposure scenario, the present work demonstrates that biological changes are induced in fish to cope with stressors present in a rice field. Fish-rice coculture is an efficient and ecologically sustainable approach to increase food supplies, and a better understanding of the effect of this particular environment on fish would allow a greater and safer development of this promising productive activity in South American rice producing countries.
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