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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2012 Feb;76(2):23-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2011.10.005. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

Molecular profiling of marine fauna: integration of omics with environmental assessment of the world's oceans.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Victoria, P.O. Box 3055 Stn CSC, Victoria, B.C., Canada.


Many species that contribute to the commercial and ecological richness of our marine ecosystems are harbingers of environmental change. The ability of organisms to rapidly detect and respond to changes in the surrounding environment represents the foundation for application of molecular profiling technologies towards marine sentinel species in an attempt to identify signature profiles that may reside within the transcriptome, proteome, or metabolome and that are indicative of a particular environmental exposure event. The current review highlights recent examples of the biological information obtained for marine sentinel teleosts, mammals, and invertebrates. While in its infancy, such basal information can provide a systems biology framework in the detection and evaluation of environmental chemical contaminant effects on marine fauna. Repeated evaluation across different seasons and local marine environs will lead to discrimination between signature profiles representing normal variation within the complex milieu of environmental factors that trigger biological response in a given sentinel species and permit a greater understanding of normal versus anthropogenic-associated modulation of biological pathways, which prove detrimental to marine fauna. It is anticipated that incorporation of contaminant-specific molecular signatures into current risk assessment paradigms will lead to enhanced wildlife management strategies that minimize the impacts of our industrialized society on marine ecosystems.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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