State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008ME143B
Title: Development of a non-lethal biomarker of contaminant exposure for threatened and endangered fish species.
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 9/01/2008
End Date: 8/31/2009
Congressional District: Second
Focus Categories: Methods, Toxic Substances, Water Quality
Keywords: bioindicators, organic compounds, pollutants, rivers, streams, synthetic organics, toxic substances, trace organics, water quality, water quality monitoring
Principal Investigators: Van Beneden, Rebecca ; Elskus, Adria ; Perkins, Brian
Federal Funds: $ 6,083
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 61,641
Abstract: Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations in the eastern United States have suffered dramatic declines in recent years leading to the listing of this species as endangered and to the development of several restoration plans (e.g., NOAA-FWS 2005). Among the threats implicated in their demise are contaminants and other factors leading to degraded water quality. Evaluating exposure to contaminants traditionally requires tissue extraction, a lethal procedure. Non-lethal alternatives are urgently needed for evaluating chemical exposure in endangered and threatened species. CYP1A is a well-established biomarker of exposure to organic contaminants that holds great promise as a non-lethal indicator of chemical exposure in fish. The objectives of the present study are to (1) evaluate the potential of gill CYP1A activity as a non-lethal measure of chemical exposure and response in Atlantic salmon, (2) compare the relative sensitivity of lethal (liver) and non-lethal (gill) CYP1A bioassays, and (3) determine the relationship between gill CYP1A activity levels and chemical exposure. This assay would serve as an inexpensive screening tool to rapidly identify which fish species and life stages are being exposed to organic contaminants, in what part of their geographic range they are likely being exposed, and, for diadromous fishes, whether the exposure is occurring during migration to-, or return from-, the sea. Such information would allow managers to select specific locations and species as 'hot-spots' and target these for more expensive chemical analyses. This assay could also be used to screen hatchery fish for evidence of contaminant exposure prior to their release into Maine rivers.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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