Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Using zebrafish to study the effects of urban pesticides

Ashland University has one of only a handful of undergraduate Toxicology degree programs in the United States. One of our current Toxicology majors, Phillip Wages, is working on his honors thesis in collaboration with two professors: Dr. Andy Trimble, a toxicologist specializing in the effects of urban pesticides, and Dr. Mason Posner, a physiologist who studies the evolution and function of the vertebrate eye.

Phillip Wages in our zebrafish aquarium facility
Pesticide use is a common way to eliminate pests for optimal crop growth; however, their misuse or over use can be harmful to non-target organisms and possibly even consumers. Toxicity testing of pesticides is not a new thing, but the incorporation of pesticide mixtures and the use of a versatile model organism will hopefully form a more complete description of the effect pesticides have on the environment. Both atrazine and permethrin are commonly used on crops together to eliminate unwanted weeds and insects respectively, but after it rains both of these commonly end up in streams and lakes and could potentially disrupt these ecosystems. For this reason, zebrafish become ideal model organisms because they can be used to understand the basic toxicity of these pesticides and hormonal and protein disruption with relative ease. This approach to understanding the effects of pesticide could ultimately change the outlook of how pesticides are administered and regulated.
-Phillip Wages

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