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Data for gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in Mytilus trossulus from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska


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Bowen, Lizabeth, Miles, A.K., Ballachey, B.E., Waters, S.C., Bodkin, J.L., Lindeberg, Mandy, and Esler, D.N., 2017, Data for gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in Mytilus trossulus from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey data release,


Marine mussels are a ubiquitous and crucial component of the nearshore environment, and new genomic technologies exist to quantify molecular responses of individual mussels to stimuli, including exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We used gene-based assays of exposure and physiological function to assess lingering oil damage from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill using the Pacific blue mussel, Mytilus trossulus. We developed a diagnostic gene transcription panel to investigate exposure to PAHs and other contaminants and their effects on mussel physiology and health. Mussels were collected annually from 2012 through 2015 at five field sites (mussel beds) in western Prince William Sound: Herring Bay, Hogan Bay, Iktua Bay, [...]


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Historically, large scale investigations into populations and ecosystems have been driven by catastrophic events associated with population die offs (Reed et al., 2003). Such investigations have relied heavily on information obtained using routine toxicology and pathology from impaired or deceased organisms. We suggest a different approach, using a model of baseline and long-term monitoring of sensitive molecular parameters (e.g., gene transcription patterns) to continually assess populations for subtle yet significant changes (Sitt et al., 2016). Our understanding of why species of concern are at risk will be enhanced if we take a proactive approach of monitoring populations prior to the onset of observable ecosystem changes and population declines. This proactive approach would provide the baseline necessary to assess the effects of perturbations and provide resource management with predictive capability to mitigate for such impacts. The culmination of these efforts would be a comprehensive system of marine monitoring and surveillance based on emerging gene transcription technologies, including the application of contaminant-specific transcript signatures, using mussels and other marine invertebrates as indicator species. This, in combination with monitoring of population and intertidal community metrics, could provide an early warning system for populations and ecosystems at risk from contaminants and other environmental stressors. References: Reed, D.H., O'Grady, J.J., Ballou, J.D. and Frankham, R., 2003. The frequency and severity of catastrophic die-offs in vertebrates. Animal Conservation, 6(02), pp.109-114. Sitt, T., Bowen, L., Lee, C.S., Blanchard, M.T., McBain, J., Dold, C., Stott, J.L., 2016. Longitudinal evaluation of leukocyte transcripts in killer whales (Orcinus Orca). Vet. Immunol. Immunopathol. 175, 7-15.


The authors of these data require that data users contact them regarding intended use and to assist with understanding limitations and interpretation. Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. Although these data and associated metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the display or utility of the data on any other system or for general or scientific purposes, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.



  • USGS Western Ecological Research Center



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DOI doi:10.5066/F70P0XHD

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