Analytical and Biomarkers Core

EPA Grant Number: R825433C039
Subproject: this is subproject number 039 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R825433
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: EERC - Center for Ecological Health Research (Cal Davis)
Center Director: Rolston, Dennis E.
Title: Analytical and Biomarkers Core
Investigators: Higashi, Richard M. , Hammock, Bruce , Fan, Teresa W-M. , Wilson, Barry W. , Matsumura, Fumio , Scow, Kate , Burau, Richard , Shibamoto, Takayuki
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 2000
RFA: Exploratory Environmental Research Centers (1992) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Center for Ecological Health Research , Targeted Research


The Analytical and Biomarkers Core will provide training and sample analysis using advanced analytical techniques and will develop new, sensitive, cost-effective and reliable methods of molecular and population epidemiology. By working collaboratively with the watershed projects, the Core expects to utilize new methodologies to increase understanding of how stresses interact and then characterize their combined effects on natural populations and ecosystems.

The objectives of the Analytical and Biomarkers Core of the Center are to develop and apply new approaches for monitoring: 1) environmental stresses at multiple levels of biological organization; and 2) the environmental pollutants that are contributing to the stresses. New methods will be identified and developed through close interaction of watershed research projects with Analytical and Biomarkers Core researchers that are familiar with analytical limitations.


The recently evolved, complex topic of ecosystem health requires the rapid development of new approaches and tools to nurture the next generation of knowledge. Chemically and biologically based analytical tools are essential for the assessment of effects and exposure, both of which are important components of ecosystem health assessment.

An ecosystem health assessment typically involves the collection of large amounts of data, often under adverse field conditions. Thus there is a high demand for chemical analysis methods that are rugged, cost-effective and efficient. Because it is often difficult to determine, by simple observation, what factors or agents are responsible for stress responses of species or communities, biomarkers of effects and exposure must also be employed in diagnosing causes. As we search for generalities about stress responses across taxonomic or geographical boundaries we need chemical and biological tools that are applicable to a wide variety of species.

As the Center focuses on ecosystem-scale projects, there is a need to measure individual-level responses that are manifested at the population, community and biome level. The most obvious level of concern for the public has been the impacts of stresses on endangered species, but the more abundant species constitute the functional components of an ecosystem. That fact, plus the lack of feasibility of working with endangered species, makes it essential to develop and test methods on laboratory or other common species, and then extrapolate these approaches to wild populations. Given that impacts of many stressors are cumulative over long time-scales, it is also important to develop approaches that permit evaluation of historical-scale markers that may be recorded within certain biota or environmental media (e.g., tree rings, sediment cores). These needs are the impetus for the Analytical and Biomarkers Core.

The Analytical and Biomarkers Core approaches span a continuum from the molecule level to the community level. With the approaches destined for higher trophic level organisms, we will tend to target a specific organ or function that is known to be specifically affected by a class of pollutants. With lower trophic level organisms, such as microorganisms, we will focus on population or community scale "footprints" which a stressor leaves on the composition and structure of entire communities.

Expected Results:

Because many of these approaches are innovative, the Analytical and Biomarker Core sections will usually involve basic research to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms involved. This, in turn, will improve the sensitivity, cost-effectiveness, reliability, and interpretability of a given method for monitoring stressors and predicting the effects of multiple stressors on ecosystems. The core will develop and evaluate these technologies, apply these technologies in support of Center ecosystem work, and endeavor to transfer these technologies to users in the general scientific community.

Supplemental Keywords:

Environmental monitoring, biomarkers, environmental chemistry, ecosystem stress, endangered species, molecular epidemeology, watersheds., RFA, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, exploratory research environmental biology, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Geochemistry, Microbiology, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Microbiology, Biochemistry, Species, Engineering, Geology, Environmental Engineering, Ecological Indicators, Risk Assessment, anthropogenic stresses, ecological risk assessment, environmental monitoring, molecular epidemiology, biomarkers, ecological health, ecosystem assessment, endangered species, watersheds, nutrients, environmental risks, Clear Lake, multiple stressors, ecosystem indicators, ecological assessment, environmental fate, environmental stress, lake ecosystem, sediment cores, watershed assessment, biomarker technology

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R825433    EERC - Center for Ecological Health Research (Cal Davis)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R825433C001 Potential for Long-Term Degradation of Wetland Water Quality Due to Natural Discharge of Polluted Groundwater
    R825433C002 Sacramento River Watershed
    R825433C003 Endocrine Disruption in Fish and Birds
    R825433C004 Biomarkers of Exposure and Deleterious Effect: A Laboratory and Field Investigation
    R825433C005 Fish Developmental Toxicity/Recruitment
    R825433C006 Resolving Multiple Stressors by Biochemical Indicator Patterns and their Linkages to Adverse Effects on Benthic Invertebrate Patterns
    R825433C007 Environmental Chemistry of Bioavailability in Sediments and Water Column
    R825433C008 Reproduction of Birds and mammals in a terrestrial-aquatic interface
    R825433C009 Modeling Ecosystems Under Combined Stress
    R825433C010 Mercury Uptake by Fish
    R825433C011 Clear Lake Watershed
    R825433C012 The Role of Fishes as Transporters of Mercury
    R825433C013 Wetlands Restoration
    R825433C014 Wildlife Bioaccumulation and Effects
    R825433C015 Microbiology of Mercury Methylation in Sediments
    R825433C016 Hg and Fe Biogeochemistry
    R825433C017 Water Motions and Material Transport
    R825433C018 Economic Impacts of Multiple Stresses
    R825433C019 The History of Anthropogenic Effects
    R825433C020 Wetland Restoration
    R825433C021 Sierra Nevada Watershed Project
    R825433C022 Regional Transport of Air Pollutants and Exposure of Sierra Nevada Forests to Ozone
    R825433C023 Biomarkers of Ozone Damage to Sierra Nevada Vegetation
    R825433C024 Effects of Air Pollution on Water Quality: Emission of MTBE and Other Pollutants From Motorized Watercraft
    R825433C025 Regional Movement of Toxics
    R825433C026 Effect of Photochemical Reactions in Fog Drops and Aerosol Particles on the Fate of Atmospheric Chemicals in the Central Valley
    R825433C027 Source Load Modeling for Sediment in Mountainous Watersheds
    R825433C028 Stress of Increased Sediment Loading on Lake and Stream Function
    R825433C029 Watershed Response to Natural and Anthropogenic Stress: Lake Tahoe Nutrient Budget
    R825433C030 Mercury Distribution and Cycling in Sierra Nevada Waterbodies
    R825433C031 Pre-contact Forest Structure
    R825433C032 Identification and distribution of pest complexes in relation to late seral/old growth forest structure in the Lake Tahoe watershed
    R825433C033 Subalpine Marsh Plant Communities as Early Indicators of Ecosystem Stress
    R825433C034 Regional Hydrogeology and Contaminant Transport in a Sierra Nevada Ecosystem
    R825433C035 Border Rivers Watershed
    R825433C036 Toxicity Studies
    R825433C037 Watershed Assessment
    R825433C038 Microbiological Processes in Sediments
    R825433C039 Analytical and Biomarkers Core
    R825433C040 Organic Analysis
    R825433C041 Inorganic Analysis
    R825433C042 Immunoassay and Serum Markers
    R825433C043 Sensitive Biomarkers to Detect Biochemical Changes Indicating Multiple Stresses Including Chemically Induced Stresses
    R825433C044 Molecular, Cellular and Animal Biomarkers of Exposure and Effect
    R825433C045 Microbial Community Assays
    R825433C046 Cumulative and Integrative Biochemical Indicators
    R825433C047 Mercury and Iron Biogeochemistry
    R825433C048 Transport and Fate Core
    R825433C049 Role of Hydrogeologic Processes in Alpine Ecosystem Health
    R825433C050 Regional Hydrologic Modeling With Emphasis on Watershed-Scale Environmental Stresses
    R825433C051 Development of Pollutant Fate and Transport Models for Use in Terrestrial Ecosystem Exposure Assessment
    R825433C052 Pesticide Transport in Subsurface and Surface Water Systems
    R825433C053 Currents in Clear Lake
    R825433C054 Data Integration and Decision Support Core
    R825433C055 Spatial Patterns and Biodiversity
    R825433C056 Modeling Transport in Aquatic Systems
    R825433C057 Spatial and Temporal Trends in Water Quality
    R825433C058 Time Series Analysis and Modeling Ecological Risk
    R825433C059 WWW/Outreach
    R825433C060 Economic Effects of Multiple Stresses
    R825433C061 Effects of Nutrients on Algal Growth
    R825433C062 Nutrient Loading
    R825433C063 Subalpine Wetlands as Early Indicators of Ecosystem Stress
    R825433C064 Chlorinated Hydrocarbons
    R825433C065 Sierra Ozone Studies
    R825433C066 Assessment of Multiple Stresses on Soil Microbial Communities
    R825433C067 Terrestrial - Agriculture
    R825433C069 Molecular Epidemiology Core
    R825433C070 Serum Markers of Environmental Stress
    R825433C071 Development of Sensitive Biomarkers Based on Chemically Induced Changes in Expressions of Oncogenes
    R825433C072 Molecular Monitoring of Microbial Populations
    R825433C073 Aquatic - Rivers and Estuaries
    R825433C074 Border Rivers - Toxicity Studies