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A critical review of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds

May 20, 2022

A literature review of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds was undertaken, aiming to support scoping and prioritization of future research. The objectives were to characterize available bioaccumulation/biotransformation data, identify knowledge gaps, determine how extant data can be used, and explore the strategy and steps forward. An intermediate approach balanced between expediency and rigor was taken given the vastness of the literature. Following a critical review of > 500 peer-reviewed studies, > 25,000 data entries and 2 million information bytes were compiled on > 700 organic compounds for ~ 320 wild species and 60 domestic breeds of birds. These data were organized into themed databases on bioaccumulation and biotransformation, field survey, microsomal enzyme activity, metabolic pathway, and bird taxonomy and diet. Significant data gaps were identified in all databases at multiple levels. Biotransformation characterization was largely fragmented over metabolite/pathway identification and characterization of enzyme activity or biotransformation kinetics. Limited biotransformation kinetic data constrained development of an avian biotransformation model. A substantial shortage of in vivo biotransformation kinetics has been observed as most reported rate constants were derived in vitro. No metric comprehensively captured all key contaminant classes or chemical groups to support broad-scope modeling of bioaccumulation or biotransformation. However, metrics such as biota-feed accumulation factor, maximum transfer factor, and total elimination rate constant were more readily usable for modeling or benchmarking than other reviewed parameters. Analysis demonstrated the lack of bioaccumulation/biotransformation characterization of shorebirds, seabirds, and raptors. In the study of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds, this review revealed the need for greater chemical and avian species diversity, chemical measurements in environmental media, basic biometrics and exposure conditions, multiple tissues/matrices sampling, and further exploration on biotransformation. Limitations of classical bioaccumulation metrics and current research strategies used in bird studies were also discussed. Forward-looking research strategies were proposed: adopting a chemical roadmap for future investigations, integrating existing biomonitoring data, gap-filling with non-testing approaches, improving data reporting practices, expanding field sampling scopes, bridging existing models and theories, exploring biotransformation via avian genomics, and establishing an online data repository.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title A critical review of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds
DOI 10.1007/s44169-021-00007-1
Authors Dave T. F. Kuo, Barnett A. Rattner, Sarah C. Marteinson, Robert J. Letcher, Kim J. Fernie, Gabriele Treu, Markus Deutsch, Mark S. Johnson, Sandrine Deglin, Michelle Embry
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Series Number
Index ID 70231754
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Ecological Science Center