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Biological monitoring is an approach of considerable interest to scientists in the field of environmental genotoxicity who are investigating the effects of hazardous substances on the biota. In essence the technique involves an evaluation of various types of responses in living organisms for their potential to identify exposure to dangerous substances and to define or to predict subsequent deleterious effects. The rationale for the selection of DNA damage as an indicator of exposure to genotoxic agents is based mainly on the mechanisms of action of chemicals that are known mutagens and carcinogens. An alkaline unwinding assay that detects excess strand breakage within the DNA polymer was applied to sunfish in a local stream as a biological monitor for environmental genotoxicity due to industrial pollution. The study was conducted over a period of 15 months, and the temporal and spatial aspects of the data were evaluated for the effect of remedial action.
biological monitoring, environmental genotoxicity, DNA damage, DNA strand breaks, alkaline unwinding assay, sunfish
Research Staff Member, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN