marine biomonitors?

Mark L. Tracy mtracy2 at
Thu Jun 1 02:37:41 EST 1995

In article <3qcfo0$agg at>, stewart at (Paul
Stewart) wrote:

>         I am preparing a proposal for using the mussel (Mytilus edulis) 
> as a biomonitor in estuarian waters. Many areas in Eastern N. America 
> culture this species in estuaries, so the organism is built-in. 

Good choice of indicator organism. Filter feeders process lots of
suspended sediment.

> I did a 
> tox. study on oil effects on seabirds using assay of elevated MFO enzymes 
> in their livers as indicator. My idea is to plate these enzymes (if they 
> exist in the mussel) along with the bacterial mutants used in the Ames 
> Salmonella Mutagenicity Test, using the number of revertant colonies as a 
> background, then use these plates to test the relative toxicity of 
> sediments and concentrated water samples in coastal and benthic areas. I

This is a highly indirect assay. Many variables need to be controlled if
you want meaningful numbers. Can you think of a more direct test for MFO
> hope to apply this as useful monitor data to determine toxicity of 
> sediment runoff from agricultural coastal land, as well as impact of 
> offshore construction, drilling, etc.

Mixed Function Oxidases are involved in the metabolism of many toxic
substances, but it is hardly a comprehensive set. How do you assign
meaning to results when the assay has widely varying response factors that
may or may not correlate to "toxicity"? (No, this is not a rhetorical
question. The grant agency will likely ask it.)

I think your proposal has some good ideas in it, but there are a bunch of
issues that need to be sorted out before it is ready. Best of luck.

Mark Tracy

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