Environmental diagnostics: the use of medical diagnostic techniques to assess the health of the marine environment

Brian Quinn, Olive McGann, Vincent Foley

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Abstract

Through investigation it has become apparent that many of the biochemical endpoints (protein, enzyme and steroid) used in modern medicine as indicators or biomarkers of mammalian health are also present in animals lower down the phylogenetic scale, including higher invertebrate species. With this in mind we are using a translational approach to research the potential of using various human and veterinary based diagnostic techniques (primarily clinical chemistry and steroid analysis) to assess the health status of marine species.

Although we have primarily used the blue mussel (Mytilus spp) as our bioindicator species, these techniques could potentially be measured in animal species throughout the phylogenetic scale (marine mammals, sea birds, fish and invertebrates) allowing for a direct inter-species and interphyla comparison, useful in assessing the overall impact of a stressor (e.g. pollution) on an ecosystem. Another significant advantage of this approach is the use of an automated system, utilising validated techniques with strict quality control measures that have been rigorously validated. One of the main issues with the use of biomarkers in environmental monitoring is the need for a comprehensive quality assurance program to ensure compatibility of data. These diagnostic technologies can potentially overcome this issue. The hard work of developing the assays and machinery to run them has already been undertaken, allowing for a relatively simple adaption and further validation process to apply them for environmental analysis. Although some of these endpoints have been reported in animals lower down the phylogenetic scale, the use of mammalian based assays on medical and veterinary diagnostic machines is novel. Results shall be presented from a series of initial experiments measuring background levels of both the steroid (oestrogen, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, testosterone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, progesterone) and clinical chemistry (alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatise, aspartate aminotransferase, gamma glutamyltransferase, Amylase, creatinine) endpoints and their responses to environmental contaminants.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event18th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms - Trondheim, Norway
Duration: 25 May 201527 May 2015
Conference number: 18
http://www.primo18.com/

Conference

Conference18th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms
Abbreviated titlePRIMO18
CountryNorway
CityTrondheim
Period25/05/1527/05/15
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Quinn, B., McGann, O., & Foley, V. (2015). Environmental diagnostics: the use of medical diagnostic techniques to assess the health of the marine environment . Paper presented at 18th International Symposium on Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms, Trondheim, Norway.