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Spatial Distribution of Genotoxicity in Lavaca Bay, Texas as Measured in Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) with the Comet Assay

Lauren Smith* and Wesley Bissett
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. College Station, Texas 77843



Objective- This project seeks to determine the spatial distribution of genotoxicity in Lavaca Bay, Texas as measured in the sentinel species Crassostrea virginica.

 Animals or Sample Population- Hemolymph was extracted from oysters (Crassostrea virginica) of identified viable reefs.

Procedure- The comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) was used to detect genotoxicity present in hemolymph cells. Bayesian geo-statistical methods were used to determine any spatial distribution.

Results- Spatial distributions were detected from three of the four comet assay parameters, with elevated levels discovered in and outside of the closure area adjacent to ALCOA, a major industrial site.

Conclusion- As expected, highest levels of genotoxicity were detected in locations near sites of emission from the industrial plant, but elevated levels located outside of the closure area raises concern that toxic wastes are not properly contained and/or there exists other potential sources of genotoxic chemicals, despite considerable clean-up efforts.