Biomonitoring: Gene expression analysis in fish tissue

Many of the existing tests to identify and monitor chemical effects in organisms exposed in the environment have been established for only a few model organisms. mRNA expression analysis of selected biomarker-genes is a promising approach for field monitoring of non-model organisms because it can be designed in a flexible manner in order to capture a wide spectrum of responses of organisms to chemical exposure.

We offer gene expression analysis of biomarker gene sets for brown trout (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to assess the effects of chemicals (such as pharmaceuticals, pesticide etc.) in fish. The biomarker genes reflect different cellular stress responses like general-, metal-, oxidative stress, endocrine disruption, biotransformation, and immunregulation. Depending on the purpose, the  transcriptional regulation of these biomarker genes can be analyzed in different tissues of fish.

Application:

  • Assess effects of wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), by analyzing gene expression in fish from upstream and downstream of WWTP
  • Assess effects of pollutant gradients in surface waterbodies, by analyzing gene expression in fish caught from different distances from the contamination source
  • Assess effects of pollutants in small surface waterbodies, such as lakes or ponds, by analyzing gene expression in fish from the target site and a defined reference site or lab controls.
  • Furthermore, gene expression analysis could serve as an additional end point for regular toxicity tests, such as OECD 236 and other OECD tests on fish.
  • Furthermore, gene expression analysis could serve as an additional end point for regular toxicity tests such as OECD 203: Fish Acute Toxicity Test, OECD 210: Fish Early-life Stage Toxicity Test, OECD 212: Fish Short-term Toxicity Test on Embryo and Sac-fry Stages

Water testing with fish cells:

Together with researchers from Eawag we are working on the establishment of a fish cell line assay as an in vitro  water monitoring tool. For this approach, permanent rainbow trout cells are directly exposed in the lab to surface water samples from the field sites. Then, the transcriptional regulation is measured in the cells.