Application and interpretation of biomarkers in ecotoxicology - from molecular to individual level responses
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The use of biomarkers is considered a promising alternative, or complement, to traditional ecotoxicological assays. Toxic effects are often initially manifested at the molecular or biochemical level, biomarkers are therefore used as sensitive indicators of toxic exposure. Ideally, biomarkers would also indicate reduced fitness and possible later effects at the individual or population levels. However, implementing biomarkers in ecotoxicology is challenging and few biomarkers have an established connection to reduced individual fitness. The aim of this thesis was to increase the value and improve the interpretation of biomarker responses in ecotoxicological studies by examining the impact of confounding factors and the relationship between oxidative biomarkers and reproductive effects in crustaceans.
The sensitivity of biomarkers was confirmed in paper I as toxic effects of pharmaceuticals with conserved drug target orthologs were observed at the molecular and biochemical levels both earlier and at lower concentrations than effects on mortality and reproduction. No toxic effects were observed for the pharmaceutical without identified drug target orthologs, thus stressing the importance of considering toxic mechanisms and being aware of the most likely target when evaluating toxic effects also in non-target species. Many xenobiotics and environmental stressors interfere with oxidative processes, making oxidative biomarkers interesting to study in ecotoxicology and stress ecology. Still, feeding rate was identified as a confounding factor for antioxidant capacity (assayed as oxygen radical absorbance capacity, ORAC) and lipid peroxidation in ecotoxicological studies (paper II). However, ORAC normalized to protein was independent of altered feeding rates, hence it can be applied as a suitable exposure biomarker without considering alterations and effects of feeding rate. The connection between reproduction and oxidative stress is dual, as reproduction both can be inhibited by oxidative stress and induce pro-oxidative processes. Further, a positive association was found between ORAC and the occurrence of embryo aberrations in the benthic amphipod Monoporeia affinis (paper III). An association between antioxidant defense and reproduction was also observed for Daphnia magna (paper IV). Threshold values for identification of exposed individuals and prediction of possible later reproductive effects were established for ORAC.
This thesis has contributed to diminishing some of the knowledge gaps limiting the use of oxidative biomarkers in ecotoxicology, by contributing to increased understanding of how oxidative biomarkers relate to important life-traits. Moreover, ORAC has been identified as a suitable biomarker of not only exposure, but also reproductive effects. Future research should continue to establish connections between biomarker responses and effects at higher levels, and focus on providing defined threshold values to enable predictions about later effects.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University , 2015. , 29 p.
biomarkers, oxidative stress, ORAC, reproduction, Daphnia magna, toxicity, environmental stress
Research subject Applied Environmental Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120161ISBN: 978-91-7649-252-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-120161DiVA: diva2:852602
2015-10-16, De Geer-salen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Barata, Carlos, Professor
Gorokhova, Elena, Professor
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.2015-09-242015-09-022015-09-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers