Maine Coast Crab Photo Courtesy of Carolyne LaCerte
Marine invertebrates, such as lobsters and corals, are crucial to the health of marine ecosystems. Marine invertebrates often lack some of the more sophisticated cellular repair mechanisms that vertebrate species like whales have. Many of these species are experiencing unprecedented and alarming population changes and declines. More importantly many are important species for commercial fisheries. Therefore it is possible that environmental contaminants may be playing a role in their population changes.
For example, high levels of chromium (Cr), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni) and lead (Pb) were found in lobster (Panulirus gracilis) tissues from the discharge area of the submarine sewage outfall in Mazatlan Bay (SE Gulf of California) (1). Specifically the levels of lead (Pb) found in muscle tissue. High levels of metals in commercially important species pose a major health concern for humans worldwide.
We are currently developing the protocols to culture lobster cells and marine corals. We hope to begin testing toxicants in these cells soon.
1. Morales-Hemandez, F., Soto-Jimenez, M.F., and Paez-Osuna, F. Heavy Metals in Sediments and Lobster (Panulirus gracilis) from the Discharge Area of the Submarine Sewage Outfall in Mazatlan Bay (SE Gulf of California). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (46) 485-491, 2004.
The Wise Laboratory is assisted in this work by Dr. Scot Kraus, who is Vice President of research at the New England Aquarium. He provides access to lobster tissues for creating cell lines.
We are currently seeking funding for this work.