Concern over human and wildlife health has brought increased attention to a group of emerging environmental contaminants referred to as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). While progress has been made in describing the effects of these compounds in vertebrates, there are still gaps in our understanding of alternative modes of action and physiological effects outside of the reproductive axis. There is little known regarding the physiological impact and mode of action of EDCs in benthic macroinvertebrates. The research proposed here aims to characterize alternative modes of action of endocrine disrupting compounds by utilizing molecular tools to examine epigenetic and physiological changes in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) exposed to EDCs in the laboratory. A novel and important aspect of this project is the focus on epigenetics, a discipline that is increasingly becoming an important component in ecology and toxicology. This research will facilitate not only the characterization of endocrine disruption in shellfish, but will also provide important information on the mechanisms by which these compounds alter physiological processes.
This is research is funded by the EPA STAR Fellowship Program –
Awarded to Mackenzie Gavery