What is it about?

In this study, we investigated if developmental disorders in animals can be related to DNA adduct formation induced by chemical exposure. This mechanism of reproductive toxicity is particularly relevant for animal populations continuously exposed to environmental contaminants, such as benthic invertebrates living in soft-bottom sediments of the Baltic Sea. Recently, we have developed a high-resolution mass spectrometry technique for untargeted analysis of structural modification in the DNA (i.e., adductomics). This approach was applied to address our research question: are there DNA adducts which are linked to embryo aberrations in the Baltic amphipods? As a model organism, we used amphipods (Monoporeia affinis) living in Baltic Sea sediment and exposed to a plethora of contaminants, both organic compounds and metals. Embryo aberrations were analysed in concert with DNA aducts and the relations between the two data sets were analyzed. We found that at least three adducts were strongly associated with severe embryo aberrations supporting our hypothesis of the DNA modifications being responsible – at least partly – for the developmental disorders.

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Why is it important?

This is the first study in wild population demonstrating the application of DNA adductomics for health assessment of wild populations. Identifying the most influential DNA adducts will be important in the future work to link specific adducts to the aberration types. In addition to the chemical exposure, other factors, such as poor diet, infections, and high temperature, may impact the animal health. Understanding the adducts-aberrations relationships will help to clarify which of the stress factors are the harmful agents for the populations in question.

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This page is a summary of: DNA epigenetic marks are linked to embryo aberrations in amphipods, Scientific Reports, January 2020, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-57465-1.
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