Monday, December 11, 2017

The Barcode of Life: DNA bar coding of Fishes

         Science now is trying to compare fishes genetic barcodes against each other to see if they can use the damage of the DNA to use it as a screen for polluted bodies of fresh water. Two fish found in a river in Pakistan were utilized in the study, spectrophotometry and the application of comet and micronucleus techniques singles out specific toxic constituents of freshwater bodies that can compromise and can be found affecting the DNA of these fishes.

          The outcome of this study concluded that DNA damage assays can indeed be used as fast toxicity screenings for aquatic environments. Being able to test DNA for damage while barcoding and learning about the environment that the fish has lived is a great second use that can be gained while studying fishes and also can shed light onto issues with fisheries and allude to any loose ends that science is yet to find answers.

          The contamination of freshwater bodies is a vital issue especially in developing countries. Fish play a critical role in these areas where development is occurring and pollution causes a bioaccumulation of substances that are then ingested by the local populations and this can cause a ripple effect and cause health concerns for the people. The study used two fish, one being a surface oriented feeder and one a benthic oriented feeder to test them each for biomarkers of freshwater pollution via simple reliable techniques such as comet and micronucleus assays.

          Comet assays test for damaged cells and toxicity and micronucleus assays test for genotoxicity, the combination of the two tests lets scientists conclude with full confidence that based off of the damage of a fishes DNA and the pollutants found in the fish it can be extrapolated to give an idea of the water quality and conditions of where the fish has lived.

          This is important because genetic science like this can be implemented in any waterway where fish are taken for food to see if it will have a harmful effect on humans as well as give an idea of the situation of that body of water. Without genetics and the aid of assays a study like this would not be possible.

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