Contamination of aquatic ecosystems.

A major research effort of my group is the study of the interactions between environmental contaminants and wildlife or human health.

(Xeno)metabolomics and exposure and effect analyses: We are developing chemical profiling techniques to investigate the mixtures of environmental chemicals accumulating in the environment and in biota, and their effects on the fish metabolome. We use trace analytical mass spectrometry techniques for metabolomics studies and for profiling mixtures of chemical contaminants in fish samples (xenometabolomics).  Click here for further information.

Environmental antiandrogens: In other work, we are interested in how biologically active contaminants such as estrogens and antiandrogens influence sexual differentiation of fish in rivers and estuaries of the UK and other countries. Many of these chemicals arise from discharges of wastewater effluents into surface waters or run off from agricultural operationsWe use effects-directed analysis to identify new structures with steroid receptor activity. recentyl as part of the Intrerreg IV project DIESE, we have identified widespread contaminantion of coastal sediments with antiandrogenic compounds. Further information.

Antiandrogens and human health.

Antiandrogenic contaminants can also be found in human tissues including placenta. There is concern that chemicals with androgen receptor blocking activity may affect the health of male newbornes resulting in cryptorchism and hypospadia. In adult life, other problems such as lowering of sperm counts or testicular germ cell cancer may occur. We are currently completing work with colleagues in at the University of Granada, Spain to identify a range of antiandrogenic contaminants in placenta samples from case and control cohorts. In other work we are currently developing methos to comprehensively profile the urine metabolome in order to detect markers of disease or toxicity in human populations. Further information

Chemical ecology of terrestial systems.

Our expertise in metabolomics, and in collaboration with ecologists, has resulted in novel discoveries on the identification of plant metabolites associated with infection by endophytic fungi or beneficial mycorrhizal species (work soon to be published). This year we have started other work with Sussex scientists to use chemical profiling techiques to investigate how mixtures present in ant gland secretions alter their behaviour and the recognition of food sources. Further information