GENERA: Use of genomic and proteomic tools for the development of contaminant specific biomarkers for the environmental risk assessment of aquatic ecosystems.
The use of genomic tools is rapidly increasing in ecotoxicology, and results from transcriptomic and proteomic studies of the effects of environmental pollutants are becoming more and more available. Apart from the knowledge of the mechanisms involved in toxic processes, the aim of conducting research on genomic and proteomic level is the development of contaminant specific biomarkers for the risk assessment of aquatic ecosystems able to respond at environmentally relevant low contaminant concentrations. However, even if important information is gathered on differential gene and proteome expression, the development of contaminant specific biomarkers in model organisms is still a task to be tackled. In this context, an attempt to joint efforts for the discovery and development of susceptible genes and proteins to be employed in routine environmental risk assessment is highly desirable. Several marine species from different organizational and trophic levels (the marine microalgae, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and Cylindritheca closterium; the copepods Tisbe battagliai, Tigriopus japonicus, and Nitokra spinipes; the estuarine amphipod Melita plumulosa; the clam, Ruditapes decussates and the cockle Cerastoderma glaucum; the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis; the oysters Crassostrea brasiliana, Crassostrea gigas and Crassostrea rhizophora; and the guppy, Poecilia vivipara) will be tested for the genomic and proteomic effects of the exposure to priority contaminants and the responses analyzed for similarities at different organizational levels with the aim to develop interspecies relevant biomarkers for environmental risk assessment of the most important contaminants, while at the same time transferring knowledge and experience by providing excellent training in cutting edge technologies between the participating institutes.
The proposal is divided into five main groups according to the organisms from different organisational levels the partners are working on: the phytoplankton-, copepod-, amphipod-, bivalve- and fish groups. This will allow evaluating observed effects first on a gender/class specific level to compare at continuation the obtained results in an inter-specific manner to fulfil the final objective of the proposal. Annual meetings with all the responsible partners will then evaluate the responses between all the proposed groups and analyse for common biomarkers of contamination.