- Platform Technologies
New research to develop tools for biomonitoring
Dr Sara Long from the Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management, Zoology’s Professor Mick Keough and Dr Allyson O’Brien and Metabolomics Australia’s Professor Malcolm McConville are developing new tools for monitoring estuarine pollution.
These tools will help to identify catchments and waterways that are at greatest ecological risk, as well as the contaminants most responsible for that risk, in order to develop appropriate management and remediation efforts. Contamination is a particular problem for Australian estuaries as 81% of the population lives within 50 kilometres of the coast, causing increased anthropogenic pressures and sources of contamination on lower catchment areas and estuaries. Estuaries support high biodiversity and ecologically important species, and this project will demonstrate how these approaches can be applied to contaminated estuarine environments in Victoria or elsewhere in Australia.
Professor McConville leads the Bio21 Institute node of Metabolomics Australia program which will provide computational and analytical capability and expertise.
“By exploiting recent informatics and technological advances in metabolomics and ecogenomics, the project will identify key biomarkers for maintaining the health of these ecosystems,” he said.
Dr Long has already shown that experimental exposure to heavy metals can lead to changes in metabolite levels in indicator organisms for particular ecosystems.
“Metabolomic techniques offer great promise in environmental monitoring, but they must be crossvalidated against existing methods to derive the best ‘toolbox’ for biomonitoring programs,” she explained.
The three-year ARC Linkage project is a collaboration with partner organisations Melbourne Water and Sydney’s CSIRO Ecogenomics laboratory, and involves both laboratory exposures and field validation in test estuaries around Victoria.
Pictured: Dr Sara Long retrieving cages containing shrimp from a polluted drain in an urban catchment. Photo: Kate Berg, Western Water