Asbestos toxicity is a problem of considerable public concern and debate, however little is known regarding the biological targets of asbestos fibers. Prompted by reports that asbestos induces aneuploidy in cultured mammalian cells, we have investigated whether asbestos induces germ-line aneuploidy in Drosophila melanogaster. Using the ZESTE genetic test system, we have shown that both chrysotile and amosite asbestos induce sex-chromosome aneuploidy in Drosophila oocytes. Chrysotile appeared to be the more effective agent because it induced approximately equal frequencies of chromosome gain and chromosome loss, while amosite induced chromosome loss only. Two other asbestiform minerals, erocidolite and tremolite, were ineffective in this assay system. These results suggest that possible germ-line effects of asbestos should be considered in evaluating its potential impact on human health.
- Drosophila melanogaster
- ZESTE genetic test system