Title: Development of biomarkers in an integrated approach to environmental studies

Authors: Elena Sturchio, Priscilla Boccia, Miriam Zanellato, Claudio Beni, Graziana Bagni, Marco Mascini, Mario Pezzella

Addresses: Department of Industrial Installations and Interaction with the Environment (DIPIA), National Institute of Health and Safety at Work (ISPESL), Via Urbana 167, 00184 Rome, Italy. ' Department of Industrial Installations and Interaction with the Environment (DIPIA), National Institute of Health and Safety at Work (ISPESL), Via Urbana 167, 00184 Rome, Italy. ' Department of Industrial Installations and Interaction with the Environment (DIPIA), National Institute of Health and Safety at Work (ISPESL), Via Urbana 167, 00184 Rome, Italy. ' Agricultural Research Council ISNP, Via della Navicella 2/4, 00184 Rome, Italy. ' Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Via della Lastruccia 3, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy. ' Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Via della Lastruccia 3, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy. ' Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, Viale del Policlinico n.155, 00161 Rome, Italy

Abstract: This study was conducted in a contained environment in order to develop biomarkers and to evaluate the environmental damage after a release of two different toxic substances which are widely used in industrial production. In a simulation study performed in Tor Mancina area (near Rome, Italy), two dangerous substances (formaldehyde and bromine) were tested. Chemical and physical characterisation, nutritive and organic contents, and trace elements presence were also investigated. The contamination effects on soil functional qualities and plant nutrition were evaluated; furthermore DNA damage with short-term genotoxicity tests and DNA biosensor on polluted soils and gravitational water, was detected. The genotoxic effects were evaluated on Vicia faba seedlings by two different short-term tests: comet assay and micronuclei test. A DNA-based biosensor for the detection of genotoxic compounds in soil samples was assembled by immobilising double stranded calf thymus DNA on screen-printed electrodes. An agreement between the comet assay and the other methodologies was observed. The results showed that the nature and the concentration of the two substances result in different molecular interaction with exposed environment. Furthermore, some of the chemical physical parameters considered are applicable indicators for the evaluation of the soil–plant system pollution.

Keywords: DNA biosensors; bromine; comet test; formaldehyde; toxic substances; micronuclei test; biomarkers; environmental impact; Italy; soil contamination; plant nutrition; DNA damage; environmental pollution.

DOI: 10.1504/IJENVH.2007.018574

International Journal of Environment and Health, 2007 Vol.1 No.4, pp.563 - 579

Published online: 30 May 2008 *

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