Cytogenetic approaches for determining ecological stress in aquatic and terrestrial biosystems

(Original Russian Text E.V. Daev, A.V. Dukelskaya, L.V. Barabanova, 2014, published in Ecologicheskaya Genetika, 2014, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 3–12.)

For comparison see this open access review:

Assessing vertebrate biodiversity in a kelp forest ecosystem using environmental DNA

The Russian group seemed to me to be ~20 years ahead of the US-based research group.

Eugene Daev explained the differences in the approach taken in the two published works.

There are different problems of biomonitoring. One of them is an assessment of biodiversity.

In their review (Port et al., 2015) authors propose molecular-genetic method of vertebrate eDNA analysis in water for assessing natural biodiversity. They show that such approach is more precise with comparison with visual estimation by divers.

In our review (Daev et al., 2015) we discuss other problem – problem of monitoring with respect to estimation of environmental status (stressed or not). When researchers trying to use routine methods of ecological monitoring with the help of biodiversity estimation they just can register changes in number of species.

We are looking at cytogenetic disturbances leading to cells’ mortality and therefore reducing viability of the organism in case of increasing  frequency above normal (spontaneous) level. Such disturbances (chromosomal aberrations etc.) appears far before death of the organism. But they are signs of stress beginning.

If we deal with the natural inhabitants of the environment we can say how healthy  this bioindicator species is. Therefore our approach assesses not consequences (reduction of biodiversity) but events preceding these reduction. To our mind such approach can help to reveal and predict the future changes (if unfavorable factor will continue to influence ecosystem).

Virtually all comparisons of molecular epigenetics to visual estimations link atoms to ecosystems in the context of nutrient stress and or social stress. The following reports link what is known about nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled cell type differentiation from the life history transitions of the honeybee model organism to the life history transitions of humans.

Stress dynamically regulates behavior and glutamatergic gene expression in hippocampus by opening a window of epigenetic plasticity

The catechol-o-methyltransferase Val158Met polymorphism modulates the intrinsic functional network centrality of the parahippocampal cortex in healthy subjects

Epigenetic Changes Caused by Occupational Stress in Humans Revealed through Noninvasive Assessment of DNA Methylation of the Tyrosine hydroxylase Gene

Oppositional COMT Val158Met effects on resting state functional connectivity in adolescents and adults

Dopaminergic, serotonergic, and oxytonergic candidate genes associated with infant attachment security and disorganization? In search of main and interaction effects

See for comparison: Pathway-Specific Striatal Substrates for Habitual Behavior

  • Strengthened direct and indirect pathways predict habitual lever pressing
  • Faster direct pathway activation, relative to indirect, also predicts habit
  • A weakened direct pathway predicts suppression of the same habit
  • These features appear to be uniformly distributed within the dorsolateral striatum

There study design and results reminds me of what Pavlov reported in the context of conditioned responses.

During his research on the physiology of digestion in dogs, Pavlov developed a procedure that enabled him to study the digestive processes of animals over long periods of time. He redirected the animal’s digestive fluids outside the body, where they could be measured. Pavlov noticed that the dogs in the experiment began to salivate in the presence of the technician who normally fed them, rather than simply salivating in the presence of food.

Adding the brain imaging does almost nothing to link metabolic networks to genetic networks in the context of what is known about the honeybee model organism and other model organisms that link atoms to ecosystems. See, for example: Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model


Animal models are often used to model human physical and mental disorders. The honeybee already serves as a model organism for studying human immunity, disease resistance, allergic reaction, circadian rhythms, antibiotic resistance, the development of the brain and behavior, mental health, longevity, diseases of the X chromosome, learning and memory, as well as conditioned responses to sensory stimuli (Kohl, 2012).

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