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HP5 Environmental Monitoring of DNA Alterations
(601) Assessment of genotoxic damage by the comet assay in common loons ( Gavia immer ).
Chamberland, K1, 2, Whitaker, B1, Evers, D2, 3, 1 Lewiston-Auburn College, University of Southern Maine, Lewiston, Maine, USA2 Biodiversity Research Institute, Falmouth, Maine, USA3 Biology Department, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine, USA
ABSTRACT- Maine lakes receive a significant influx of heavy metal contaminants originating at distant sources and delivered via rainwater. Our laboratory has been involved in the examination of the genotoxic effects of a complex mixture of anthropogenic chemicals employing the comet assay to measure the levels of genotoxicity induced in sentinel animal species. Prior studies have utilized smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, sampled from Lake Umbagog (northwestern Maine) and the Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Penobscot Rivers. We observed a significant correlation (R2 = 0.699) between the extent of genotoxic damage in nuclei from Micropterus dolomieu as measured with the comet assay and toxicity levels existing at specific sampling sites along the Androscoggin River. Our current studies are focused on the effects of these contaminants and the heavy metal mercury on a higher order consumer, the common loon (Gavia immer). Preliminary studies indicate that loon populations are under stress in Maine. Loons will be sampled on Aziscohos and Flagstaff Lakes, two of the lakes with the highest levels of mercury contamination in Maine. Birds from Richardson and Rangely Lakes will serve as controls as these lakes have low levels of mercury contamination. All study sites are located in northwestern Maine.
Key words: comet assay, genotoxicity, heavy metals, common loons
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