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Duke University

Superfund Research Program

Markers for Chemical Mixtures in Fundulus Heteroclitus

Project Leader: Richard T. Di Giulio
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2000-2011

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Project Summary (2000-2005)

The principal goal of this project is to develop a biomarker-based strategy for assessing exposures to and reproductive/developmental effects of Superfund chemicals in an aquatic sentinel species that is robust in the context of multiple exposures. Researchers are performing in-depth, quantitative analyses of the single and combined effects of selected Superfund chemicals on reproduction and growth in the common estuarine fish, the killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus). The chemicals represent three mechanisms of action potentially related to reproductive and developmental effects: aryl hydrocarbon receptor-mediated, sex steroid hormone receptor-mediated, and oxidative stress. Project investigators are quantifying the effects of these chemicals, singly and in combination, on reproduction and development in the killifish. The ability of selected compounds to undergo maternal transfer to oocytes is also being investigated and correlations between developmental toxicities and mechanism-based biomarkers are being established. This biomarker-based strategy for assessing exposures to and reproductive and developmental effects of Superfund contaminants is robust in multiple exposure scenarios and is being developed and applied to sediments collected from four Superfund sites.

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