Employing molecular, chemical and physiological techniques using Crassostrea virginica to assess ecosystem health along coastal South Carolina and North Carolina, United States
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Employing molecular, chemical and physiological techniques using Crassostrea virginica to assess ecosystem health along coastal South Carolina and North Carolina, United States

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  • Journal Title:
    Environmental Research
  • Description:
    Natural and anthropogenic environmental impacts can introduce contaminants into sensitive habitats, threatening ecosystems and human health. Consistent monitoring of coastal areas provides critical environmental assessment data. Sediments and Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) tissues were collected at fourteen South Carolina (SC) and four North Carolina (NC) sites as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Mussel Watch environmental monitoring program. Cellular and molecular techniques were employed to measure C. virginica stress response, specifically, Lipid Peroxidation (LPx), Glutathione (GSH), and qPCR techniques. Gene specific primers targeted for detecting oxidative stress and cellular death were developed in C. virginica to gauge response to current environmental conditions using gill and hepatopancreas (HP) tissue. In order to validate gene specific markers as additional assessment tools, a 96 h zinc (Zn) laboratory exposure was performed. Cellular biomarker data revealed tissue specific responses. Hepatopancreas data showed C. virginica exhibited stress through the lipid peroxidation assay amongst sampling sites, however, response was managed through glutathione detoxification. Gill tissue data had significantly lower levels of cellular biomarker response compared to hepatopancreas. Molecular biomarkers targeting these cellular stress pathways through qPCR analysis show upregulation of Metallothionein in hepatopancreas and gill tissue with a concurrent > 2-fold upregulation in the detoxification marker Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) at three NC sites. SC sites displayed higher stress levels through LPx assays and down-regulation in GPx gene activity. Laboratory zinc exposure revealed no significance in cellular biomarker results, however, molecular data showed gills responding to zinc treatment through upregulation of Metallothionein, SOD and Cathepsin L, indicating an acute response in gills. Collectively, chemical, cellular and molecular methods clarify sentinel stress response of biological impacts and aid in evaluating environmental health in coastal ecosystems. This combined methodological approach provides a detailed analysis of environmental conditions and improves land-use management decisions.
  • Source:
    Environmental Research, 236, 116817
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    CC BY
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