Expert Opinion on Environmental BiologyISSN: 2325-9655

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Sea Urchin Bioassays in Toxicity Testing: I. Inorganics, Organics, Complex Mixtures and Natural Products

Sea Urchin Bioassays in Toxicity Testing: I. Inorganics, Organics, Complex Mixtures and Natural Products

Based on established knowledge in physiology and embryology, sea urchins have proven to be excellent bioassay models since the early 1970’s when evaluating the impacts to early life stages and cellular functions after exposure to a number of xenobiotics. This review attempts to build a comprehensive survey of reports on sea urchin gametes and embryos used in toxicity testing of different classes of xenobiotics including inorganics, organics, different complex mixtures, and natural products. Our results provide support for common endpoints used when evaluating adverse effects on sea urchin early life stages, including frequency of developmental defects and/or cytogenetic abnormalities, changes in sperm fertilization success and offspring damage, and other endpoints related to redox alterations, DNA damage and other molecular biomarkers. Current studies using sea urchin bioassays continue to provide support for this tool in toxicology including, amongst others, studies of ocean acidification, action mechanisms of candidate new drugs, and novel xenobiotic releases to the environment.

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