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The synthesis of stress proteins is induced by a wide variety of stressors and occurs in virtually every organism. Which proteins are synthesized depends on the stressor, and the amount of protein synthesized seems to depend on the level of stress.
Stress proteins can be detected quite easily autoradiographically or immunologically. A field immunoassay is feasible, allowing early warning of environmental problems as well as routine in situ monitoring. More sophisticated laboratory assays are also available, combining gel electrophoresis, autoradiography, immunoassays, and densitometry to confirm the field assessment and perhaps to suggest the physical or chemical stressor or stressors causing the problem.
The tests can be done on live, fresh, or preserved specimens. Assaying preserved specimens allows samples from different areas and times to be tested simultaneously.
stress proteins, autoradiography, immunoassays, biomonitoring, sublethal bioassays
University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD