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Science In Depth:
Cytochrome P450 (CYP1A) enzyme induction has been widely used as a biomarker of hydrocarbon exposure in wildlife, including marine waterfowl. We will measure CYP1A enzyme activity to create baselines and assess species sensitivity.
To measure current levels of hydrocarbon exposure we will collect liver samples from hunter killed birds in areas near the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas over two years. Target species will include king eider (Somateria spectabilis), common eider (Somateria mollissima), and greater white-fronted goose. Liver samples will be frozen and sent to the Eider Lab at the ASLC to measure CYP1A enzyme levels.
We will use liver cell culture to assess species responses, and potential sensitivity, to hydrocarbons. Cell culture methods allow for both testing of unique species-specific responses, and comparisons among species under controlled laboratory conditions. Liver cells are grown in an incubator and monitored for
growth characteristics, health, and morphology using microscopy before being exposed to hydrocarbon reference compounds. The cells will be exposed to various concentrations of the hydrocarbon dose and for different time periods. Once exposure time is complete CYP1A levels in the cells are recorded and compared to species of known low sensitivity (mallard; Anas platyrhunchos) and high sensitivity (chicken; Gallus domesticus). Target species include: Steller’s eider, king eider, common eider, spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri), long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemali), black brant (Branta bernicla), Canada goose (Branta canadensis), common murre (Uria aalge), black guillemot (Cepphus grylle or pigeon guillemot Cepphus columba as surrogate), and tufted puffin (Fratercula cirrhata).
Stay tuned! This project has just recently started and we are currently collecting samples and running laboratory tests.