Meeting Abstract

P1.24  Wednesday, Jan. 4  BIOMARKER DEVELOPMENT TO EXAMINE SUBLETHAL IMPACTS OF POLLUTANTS IN MARINE TURTLES KOMOROSKE, Lisa M.*; BOWEN, Lizabeth; MILES, A. Keith; University of California, Davis; United States Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center; United States Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center lmkomoroske@ucdavis.edu

Environmental stressors like pollution can exert sublethal impacts on organisms that may in turn affect individual fitness and population dynamics. The current knowledge of these relationships in marine turtles is very sparse because conventional laboratory studies are difficult to conduct on sensitive, long-lived vertebrates. We developed novel biomarkers to investigate relationships between pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and physiological condition using gene expression profiling. The fundamental advantage of this approach is that the response of many genes providing transcriptional messages can be quantified from a small amount of blood, serving as proxies for proteins and cellular regulation. We sequenced and developed quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction primers for a panel of relevant genes, including the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, thyroid hormone receptor beta, heat shock protein 70, vitellogenin, and the major histocompatibility complex in green (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles. This approach has great potential in marine turtle research because it yields important insight into physiological function and subsequent health of free-ranging animals while utilizing minimally invasive, field-friendly sampling methodology. We plan to develop additional gene expression biomarkers and apply them to investigate relationships among pollutants, pathogens, and physiological condition in wild and clinically healthy captive populations of these marine turtles.