Biomarkers

Biological markers, known as biomarkers, help CAPIM to conduct health checks on aquatic flora and fauna.

Biomarkers field experiment set-up
Field experiment set up – sediment spiked with pesticides have been placed in tubs at a
reference site to assess effects on macroinvertebrates

Biomarkers

Biological markers, known as biomarkers, help CAPIM to conduct health checks on aquatic flora and fauna. A biomarker is a biological response in an individual animal which can be objectively measured to determine a biological state.

Biomarkers aim to show the effects of pollutants before significant impairment of ecosystems occur. While they are designed to be measured in one or a few species in an environment, they reflect the likely response of the entire biota. One of the challenges is to develop biomarkers for pollution detection and diagnostics.

Current research is focussed on developing biomarkers that respond to specific chemicals (or classes of chemicals) in freshwater and estuarine invertebrates and fish. This is done using a combination of controlled laboratory exposures and field based experiments.

We are collaborating with the Metabolomics Australia team at the University of Melbourne to use novel approaches that can measure hundreds of molecules simultaneously to identify candidate biomarkers for specific chemicals. Outcomes of this research are to develop novel, sensitive approaches for pollution detection that can be used for assessing the condition of waterways. Additionally, biomarkers can also be employed to monitor the success of remediation activities.

For more information, please contact Dr Sara Long hoskins@unimelb.edu.au.