One of the most important early indicators of pollution in aquatic environments is the effect on indigenous animals, including invertebrates such as mussels. While cellular damage studies have traditionally played an important role, advances in medical techniques now make it possible to study pollution-induced damage at the DNA level, offering an earlier and more sensitive indicator. These techniques have been pioneered in the USA and urgently need development in Europe.Dr Rochelle at Sussex is one of the leading European scientists in this field, building inexperience from working in the aquatic toxicology group at Johns Hopkins University before taking up her current Sussex post. This proposal will bring Corona Coca to Sussex, to work on development of DNA damage studies in invertebrates, building on her research work in Romania. This fellowship will provide the expertise to enable study of pollution in the Romanian Black Sea via DNA damage in mussels. Studies have shown that the chemicals taken up from the marine environment by organisms bind to DNA, leading to tumours in a diverse range of species. Tumours have been described finfish species but less is known regarding DNA damage and tumours in invertebrates. In Europe, invertebrates have yet to be investigated at this molecular level. The fellow\'s PhD studies have shown that European mussels do possess tumours in contaminated areas of the European Black Sea. The fellow will learn and apply state-of-the-art molecular techniques for characterisation of mussel cancer genes and proceed to examine their association with pollution-induced tumours. Throughout the project the fellow will immerse within the European scientific community, establish contacts, raise their academic profile and prepare for a future independent research career.
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