SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1996

Chemistry and Toxicity of Sediments from San Diego Bay, Including a Biomarker (P450 RGS) Response


Thirty sediment samples were collected from the vicinity of the Naval Docking Facility in San Diego Bay and used to conduct bioassays with amphipods (solid-phase), oyster larvae (elutriate), Microtox, and a new rapid screening test called the cytochrome P450 Reporter Gene System (RGS). This RGS cell line, from a human liver cancer cell, has been engineered to produce luciferase, when the CYP1A1 gene on the chromosome is induced by toxic and carcinogenic organics (dioxin, coplanar PCBs, PAHs). Elutriates were tested with both Microtox and oyster larvae, and organic extracts of sediments were tested with Microtox and the P450 RGS assay. Chemical analyses included total organic carbon (TOC), and acid volatile sulfides (AVS) along with a wide range of metals and organic chemicals. The simultaneously extracted metals (SEM) to AVS ratio was compared to the toxic response of oyster larvae and amphipods. Along each of the piers sampled, contaminant concentrations decreased with distance from shore. A correlation matrix analysis of all biological and chemical data was conducted. The strongest correlation (0.78, r2=0.61) between a chemical measurement and a biological response was that of total PAH versus the P450 RGS response. The use of P450 RGS as a screening tool to assess the relative risk of contaminants on sediments is biologically meaningful, and is a rapid and inexpensive means of determining which samples require complete chemical characterization.

Author Information

Anderson, JW
Columbia Analytical Services, Carlsbad, CA
Newton, FC
MEC Analytical Systems, Carlsbad, CA
Hardin, J
MEC Analytical Systems, Carlsbad, CA
Tukey, RH
University of California, San Diego, CA
Richter, KE
NRaD, U.S. Navy, San Diego, CA
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 53–78
DOI: 10.1520/STP11699S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5345-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2031-0