The group studies various aspects of research of aquatic toxicology, and the first foray into research investigated the effects of cyanobacteria on fish. The main focus has been on fish toxicology, but also includes invertebrates. In addition, the development of FIGCS was primarily as a tool in toxicology research, and the group has used cell lines in cytotoxicity studies. Research includes: mechanisms of metal toxicity; uptake, bioaccumulation and biotransformation of emerging contaminants; sediment toxicity and adaptation to pollutants. A new exciting of research is in collaboration with Dr. Mike Chadwick at King’s to investigate toxicological stressors in urban streams.
The group has a long standing interest in fish physiology and more specifically metal homeostasis. This includes the use of in vivo and in vitro methods to better understand the mechanisms of metal. Recent studies investigate the effects of metal mixtures on metal bioavailability and on the expression of genes in the gills known to be involved in metal acquisition. The aim is to identify transport pathways shared between metals (metal mimicry) and the wider regulatory implications are to identify the toxicity of metal mixtures to fish . In addition, over the last 5 years we have worked on a population of brown trout that reside in a river with a legacy of metal pollution dating back to the 19th century. Our work has identified only subtle changes to population genetic structure of these fish and by the use of next-gen sequencing identified potential mechanism for tolerance. The wider implication is an understanding of how fish adapt to environmental change.
In mammals there are two corticosteroid receptors (CRs), glucocorticoid (GRs) and mineralocorticoid (MRs) receptors that control or influence a vast array of cellular functions. For example, they are involved in the stress response, mineral balance, immune system and development. We have recently made an intriguing discovery – teleost fish have two GRs and an MR, the extra GR apparently being retained following the whole genome duplication that occurred in the actinopterygian lineage around 350MYA. The CRs first emerged in early agnathans and current research investigates their functional role in hagfish and early actinopterygians with an aim to identify molecular mechanisms that have lead to the retention of the 2GRs in teleost fish.