Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Metabolomics of Different Tissues From the Norway Lobster, Nephrops norvegicus: A First Approach to Determine Biomarkers of Environmental Health in a Crustacean

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Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Annual Science Meeting / Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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Environmental metabolomics is a rapidly-growing field as its measurements can show the functional status of an organism at the molecular level. This information is obtained by determining the low-molecular-weight metabolite composition of tissues. Since the metabolites from metabolic pathways incorporate both genetic and environmental signals during expression, the potential exists to identify species-specific biomarkers for environmental health in different ecosystems. In this study, this emerging technology has been applied to different tissues of the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus, a prominent member of the marine macrobenthic community on soft sediments. Specimens were captured monthly for a year by otter trawl from two Scottish sites, in the Clyde Sea area and the Minch, and metabolites were extracted from homogenized tissues (‘head pastes’) and from individual organs, the hepatopancreas, and gonads. These extracts were then analyzed using the 1D 1H and 2D 1H-1H homonuclear correlation NMR spectroscopy (COSY). From these analyses we determined that the major compounds in each of these samples were chitin, small molecular weight polysaccharides, a fatty acid and the pigment astaxanthin. However, differences between samples in different seasons, from different sites, and the various tissues could not be determined as the concentrations of these compounds within the samples were likely too low to be detected by NMR spectroscopy. Therefore, HPLC with full scan HRESIMS- Orbitrap was used to determine differences between the samples. These results were analyzed using principle component analysis (PCA) in order to find relationships between the samples. In this way, differences in metabolite composition were evident between sites and seasons. Thus, hepatopancreas samples from different sexes and seasons were found to be significantly different, while female gonad samples were not significantly different between seasons. Identification of the compounds found was, however, very limited as the databases available have as yet recorded few metabolite identifications for marine organisms. Future research would be necessary in order to identify the compounds found, but once this is achieved these compounds could be used to determine biomarkers for N. norvegicus health within an ecosystem.



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