EPA Region 5 in Chicago recently hosted the second meeting on “effects-based” monitoring in theGreat Lakes and scientists from NCCOS’ Mussel Watch Program attended.
Scientists have longrecognized that chemical contaminant monitoring in environmental matrices is expensive and limited inits ability to identify ecological risk. Molecular, biochemical, histological and morphological changesin 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 (collectivelycalled “omics”) made presentations and discussed the utility of these techniques in meeting the needsof the region. Metabolomics, for example, is the systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprintthat specific cellular processes leave behind.
NCCOS scientists propose to collaborate with NISTscientist to enhance NOAA’s Mussel Watch by applying the metabolomics technique to assessmetabolic fingerprints of mussels in “hot spots” relative to reference sites in the Great Lakes. Thisapproach, 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 pictureof the health and recovery of hot spots in the Great Lakes.