NCCOS and NIST Scientists Propose Using “Chemical Footprints” to Enhance NOAA Mussel Watch Program’s Monitoring of EPA- designated Areas of Concern
EPA Region 5 in Chicago recently hosted the second meeting on “effects-based” monitoring in the Great Lakes and scientists from NCCOS’ Mussel Watch Program attended.
Scientists have long recognized that chemical contaminant monitoring in environmental matrices is expensive and limited in its ability to identify ecological risk. Molecular, biochemical, histological and morphological changes in organisms are useful to risk assessment when they reflect the health of individual-, population-, and community-levels.
Experts in the fields of genomics, proteomics or metabolomics (collectively called “omics”) made presentations and discussed the utility of these techniques in meeting the needs of the region. Metabolomics, for example, is the systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprint that specific cellular processes leave behind.
NCCOS scientists propose to collaborate with NIST scientist to enhance NOAA’s Mussel Watch by applying the metabolomics technique to assess metabolic fingerprints of mussels in “hot spots” relative to reference sites in the Great Lakes. This approach, in concert with its other indicators of the Mussel Watch Program (sediment chemistry, tissue chemistry, sediment toxicity and benthic infauna characterization) will provide a clearer picture of the health and recovery of hot spots in the Great Lakes.