Macondo crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disrupts specific developmental processes during zebrafish embryogenesis


***Wednesday, March 21, 2011
Redfield Auditorium - 12:00 Noon
Dr. Michael Barresi
Assistant Professor,
Smith College

The total vertical exposure of the Deepwater Horizon crude oil to the water column suggests it could impact an enormous diversity of ecosystems.  Water soluble components of crude oil have been shown to cause defects in cardiovascular and craniofacial development in a variety of teleost species, but the developmental origins of these defects are unknown.  We tested whether water accumulated fractions (WAF) of the Deepwater Horizon oil could impact specific processes throughout embryonic and larval development in zebrafish.  WAF treatments caused specific gross morphological deformation, craniofacial and cardiovascular defects, as well as deficiencies in locomotor escape behaviors.  We extended this characterization to determine the cellular and developmental origins of these defects, and show associated defects in cell survival and the development of neural crest cells, sensory neurons, and muscle.  This work establishes a model for the molecular mechanisms behind crude oil mediated deformations, and provides a platform for more focused assessment of the impact that this oil spill has had on the early life stages of native fish species in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.