Columbia Environmental Research Center

Biochemistry and Physiology

In the Biochemistry and Physiology Branch, CERC scientists conduct basic and applied research at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organism and population levels in fish, aquatic invertebrates, and wildlife. We study how environmental stressors change animal development, reproduction, immune function, metabolism, or behavior, possibly leading to population-level changes that ultimately affect ecosystem health. Current stressors of interest include contaminants, nutrient deficiencies, hypoxia, and temperature-related impacts. In addition to understanding effects on animal health, we investigate and learn about the underlying mechanisms of toxicity using molecular, genomic, biochemical, and histological approaches. Additionally, we are developing Environmental DNA (eDNA) methods to evaluate organism health and detect the presence of invasive and endangered species in aquatic ecosystems. Most of our projects are collaborative efforts in partnership with other government scientists, academia, and industry, and involve studies completed both in our laboratories at CERC and at field sites across the United States and sometimes internationally. 


Contact Thea Edwards, Ph.D., Branch Chief

Filter Total Items: 4
Date published: February 26, 2021

Costs and Benefits of Nitrapyrin

In December 2020, our research group (as part of the Food Integrated Science Team) published a review of nitrapyrin costs and benefits in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Date published: December 16, 2020
Status: Active

Molecular Section: eDNA Research

Environmental DNA (eDNA) research at CERC focuses on the development and utility of eDNA tools as well as interpretation of eDNA data in real-world management applications. We work with academic, state, federal and international partners in developing standards and best practices for eDNA technology and exploring the factors that affect eDNA detection in the field. Our lab's eDNA research...

Date published: February 8, 2019
Status: Active

Thiamine (Vitamin B1) Deficiency in Fish and Wildlife

In the last few decades, thiamine deficiency has been observed in fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes, Alaska, Sweden and several other areas in North America and Europe. Thiamine is an essential vitamin needed for cell function. Thiamine deficiency has been linked to neurological disorders, immunosuppression, and lower reproductive viability. These disorders potentially reduce populations of...

Contacts: Donald Tillitt, Ph.D., Steven Smith, Ph.D.
Date published: August 30, 2018
Status: Active

High-Content Screening Alternative Toxicity Testing— Columbia, Missouri

About the Research

The Environmental Health Program works with toxicologists at the High-Content Screening Laboratory develop alternative toxicity testing to efficiently provide specific toxicity data to managers and regulators and prioritize compounds for further testing. Our high-content imaging capability provides a highly adaptable platform for early life stage fish...