BATON ROUGE A research team led by LSU Associate Professors of Biological Sciences Fernando Galvez and Andrew Whitehead has published the results of a combined field and laboratory study showing the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on fish living in Louisiana marshes.
The study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, or NSF, and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative is being published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS. Their study shows that, despite very low to non-detectable concentrations of oil constituents in the water and in fish tissues, biological effects in fish indicate dramatic responses that are indicative of exposures to the toxic components of oil.
That is, the biological responses of the fish were much more sensitive indicators of exposures and effects from the contaminating oil than the environmental chemistry was.
"Though the fish may be 'safe to eat' based on low chemical burdens in their tissues, that doesn't mean that the fish are healthy or that the fish are capable of reproducing normally," said Whitehead.
Genome expression responses detected in liver tissues were predictive of the types of responses associated with developmental abnormalities and death observed in previous studies by Galvez and Whitehead. Furthermore, responses were predictive of impairment of fish reproduction, meaning that the probability of impact on populations is significant.
Additionally, gill tissues, which are important for maintaining critical body functions, appeared damaged and had altered protein expression coincident with oil exposure, and these effects persisted for long after the visible oil disappeared from the marsh surface. Controlled exposures in laboratory settings of developing embryos to field-collected waters induced similar cellular responses.
"This is of concern because early life-stages of many organisms are partic
|Contact: Ashley Berthelot|
Louisiana State University