ONGOING PROJECTS IN THE LAB

Identifying spatially-explicit profiles of endocrine disruption activity during low flows in East Canyon Creek (Park City, Utah).

 

Summary:

The main objective of this research is to develop an understanding of the presence of endocrine disruptors and associated biological responses downstream of the wastewater treatment plant discharge to East Canyon Creek (Park City, Utah), including an estimation of effects to aquatic life. We will specifically accomplish these goals by using a weight of evidence (analytical chemistry, in vitro responsesin vivo responses).

 

People Involved:

Marco E. Franco and Ramon Lavado. In Collaboration with Dr. Bryan Brooks (Baylor University).

 

 

The evaluation of Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis) metabolism from populations resistant to industrial pollution (PAHs, PCBs, etc.) from the Houston Ship Channel, Texas.

 

Summary:

Recent studies in Gulf killifish from the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) have suggested that populations exposed to industrial pollution have developed resistance to dioxin-like compounds. However, limited information exists on the mechanisms of resistance expressed by these fish. We aim to combine field- and laboratory-based studies to mechanistically examine xenobiotic metabolism, and the biochemical factors that may be responsible for such resistance. The goals of these studies are: 1. describe and compare the expression and activity of enzymes involved in metabolism between resistant and reference populations, 2. characterize the metabolic profiles of known HSC contaminants in resistant populations, and 3. integrate in vivo and in vitro models to describe resistant populations of fish and, potentially, other species inhabiting highly polluted environments. This project will provide further knowledge into the biochemical pathways that may be important in regulating metabolism of industrial pollutants in both reference and pollution-resistant populations.

 

People Involved:

Marco E. Franco and Ramon Lavado. In Collaboration with Dr. Cole Matson and Dr. Sascha Usenko (Baylor University).

 

 

 

Exploring the use of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) as biomarkers of flocculation in wastewater treatment plants.

 

Summary:

In wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), operating parameters of wastewater treatment influence the aquatic chemistry and the dynamics of complex microbial structures and their species composition. The chemical and biological species composition of the system, as well as the physical structure of biomass, determines metabolic pathways that may occur in the system and finally the quality of treated wastewater. Microorganisms are organized in species-rich structures that biodegrade a wide range of substrates. The formation of microbial aggregates is connected with the production of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Removal of organic matter (such as cells) and other contaminants (such as colloids and suspended solids) through flocculation may generate small or fragile flocs that can disperse. Thus in WWTPs, flocculation is facilitated with chemical polymers followed by physical separation of solids and liquids.

The main objective of this project is the identification and evaluation of biomass health in wastewater treatment basins for cost-effective maintenance of high flocculation rates.  

 

People Involved:

Grace Sutherland, Marco E. Franco, and Ramon Lavado. In Collaboration with Dr. George Cobb (Baylor University).

 

 

Use of novel cell-based metabolomics approach for assessing potential toxicity of seafood.

 

Summary: 

There has been significant research on the human health effects of persistent organic pollutants from fish consumption. However, there is little known about the risks of many other chemicals now routinely detected in fish. The proposed research will identify mechanisms of toxicity associated with fish and seafood consumption. This will facilitate the identification of contaminants driving biological responses, and ultimately form altered regulation and remediation necessary to protect humans. Fish and seafood species are collected from the Texas coast, and chemical analyses are being conducted on them. To model human dietary exposures, we are using two human cell lines (derived from intestine and liver) in a co-culture setup. Following exposures, cells are screened for a variety of toxicologically-relevant biochemical responses, including the metabolomic analysis of 40 small molecules (amino acids, biogenic amines, sugars) and more than 360 lipids.

 

People Involved:

Grace E. Sutherland, Marco E. Franco, and Ramon Lavado. In Collaboration with Dr. Cole Matson, Dr. Erica Bruce and Dr. Sascha Usenko (Baylor University). 

 

 

 

 

The use of metabolomics in assessing biochemical modifications in patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD).

 

Summary:

Individuals with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) have a nearly two-fold increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those without PAD. Previous studies have determined that metabolomic profiling can help to identify patients with PAD who are at increased risk of near-term mortality. Based on that, we use metabolomics and histological approach to identify early warning biomarkers in the development of PAD.

 

People Involved:

Marco E. Franco and Ramon Lavado. Collaboration with Dr. Panagiotis Koutakis (Florida State University).

 

 

 

 

In vitro evaluations of harmful algal blooms in fish: elucidating the toxicity and mechanisms of action of different algal toxins.

 

Summary:

Microalgal blooms are a natural part of the seasonal cycle of photosynthetic organisms in aquatic ecosystems. They are key components of the structure and dynamics of water bodies and thus sustain the benefits that humans obtain from these aquatic environments. However, some microalgal blooms can cause harm to humans and other organisms mainly through their consequences to coastal ecosystem services (fisheries, tourism, and recreation). Investigations on harmful algal blooms (HABs) have described direct detrimental health effects on fish, many other aquatic organisms and humans. In this project, we evaluate the toxicity and mechanisms of action of algal toxins in fish through the use of established cell lines from fish gills and liver. These studies aim to highlight the way such toxins impact fish and aquatic environments and could serve as the basis for extrapolation to in vivo testing and ecological risk assessment.

 

People Involved:

Marco E. Franco and Ramon Lavado. In Collaboration with Dr. Bryan Brooks (Baylor University).

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