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Bio-indicator and

 Bioindicators are living organisms

used to study the bio-available
fraction of pollutants in ecosystems.
 They are mostly non-target
 human and wildlife
when monitoring for example,
pesticides in the environment.
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria

 Chemical Properties
 Biological Properties
 Ecological Properties
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria
 Chemical Properties
 each chemical/product should
be treated on its own merit
 Ecological:
 level of toxic compound in the
ecosystem and
 type of ecosystem.
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria
 Biological Properties
 Species sensitive or tolerant to
the pollutant
 Organisms that bioaccumulate
the pollutant at its low
environmental concentrations
 Animals in which concentrations
can be analyzed
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria
 Biological Properties
 Organisms should accumulate
the pollutant without being killed
by the levels encountered in the
 The organism should be
sedentary throughout the study
 The organism should be
abundant throughout the study
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria
 Biological Properties
 The organism should be sufficiently
long-lived to allow the sampling of
more than one-year class if desired.
 The organism should be of reasonable
size, giving adequate tissue for
 The organism should be easy to
sample and hardy enough to survive
in the laboratory, allowing defecation
before analysis, if desired, and
laboratory studies of pollutant uptake.
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria
 Biological Properties
 The organism should tolerate brackish water
 A simple correlation should exist between the
pollutant content of the organism and the
average pollutant concentration in the
surrounding water.
 All organisms of a given species used in survey
should exhibit the same correlation between
their pollutant content and the average pollutant
concentration in the surrounding water at all
locations studied under all conditions
Bio-indicators: Selection Criteria
 Commonly used organisms
 Benthic macro-
 Algae

 Fish
 Biomarkers are Biological
response to environmental
chemical, which gives a measure
of exposure and sometimes
 Biomarker responses may be
histological, biochemical,
physiological, morphological,
behavioral in nature
 Responses may be observed at the
molecular, cellular or whole
organism level and not above
 Biomaker responses demonstrate
a departure from the normal status.
Biomarkers: Specificity
Biomarkers may be specific or non-
specific for a given agent
 Non-specific
 Indicates harm is being caused by
something and show the need for
further study.
 Specific
 indicate exactly what chemicals are
responsible for the observed harm.
Both are useful in evaluating the effects of
environmental agents
Biomarkers: Specificity

 E.g. of specific biomarkers are

 Lead (Pb) inhibition of ALAD
(aminolevulinic acid dehydratase)
 Induction of metallothionine by
 Eggshell thining by DDT and DDE
Biomarkers: Specificity
 AChE (acetylcholinesterase)
inhibition by OP and carbamate
 Heavy metals, detergents, and possibly
other chemicals also inhibit AChE
 Yet still, measurement of esterase
activity is a more reliable means of
assessing OP and carbamate effect than
measuring pesticide residues in the
Biomarkers: Specificity

 Esterase activity in brain tissue

gives more reliable assessment of
OP and carbamate effect than
esterase activity in blood since
central nervous system damage
does not well correlated with
esterase activity in blood
Biomarkers: Non-Specificity
Biomarkers may be more general
 inhibitionof immune response
by a wide variety of toxic
 induction of stress proteins
 induction of monooxygenases
Biomarkers: Non-Specificity
 Monooxygenase activity represents a
relatively non-specific biomarker
 But very useful for tracking the effects of
complex mixtures of toxic chemicals such as
the effluents from paper mills.
 The enzyme system occurs in the
endoplasmic reticulum of most vertebrate
 Mono-oxygenase is especially active in the
vertebrate liver.
 And is responsible for the detoxication of a
wide variety of lipophilic xenobiotics
including polycyclic aromatic compounds.
Behavioral biomarkers
 Is a fast developing field and
more comprehensive
indicators of toxic action than
are physiological and
biochemical changes,
 But to date not really
dependable in assessing toxic
effects and more work is
Biomarkers in Plants
 Not well established like animal biomarkers.
 Few available are
- Selenoproteins is a reliable indicator of
selenium toxicity
- Fluorocitrate production is a reliable
biomarker for fluorospar toxicity
- Phytochelatins serve as a biomarker for
free heavy metal poisoning in plants
- Peroxidase activity is used to show
exposure of plants to SO2
Biomarkers in Risk Assessment

 Most biomarkers are used to indicate

only exposure and few also indicates
both effect and exposure
 In risk assessment society at large
should decide how much damage are
we willing to tolerate
 And scientists should decide on how
much proof is sufficient enough
Biomarkers of exposure
 Biochemical markers (Biomarkers) of
exposure are useful as an early-
warning system, because they
change before
 histologic

 organism or

 population-level effect is observed.