390357 Serum Metabolomics of Bottlenose Dolphins

Wednesday, November 19, 2014: 10:36 AM
214 (Hilton Atlanta)
Kathleen A. Vermeersch1, Alistair Dove2, Gregory Bossart2, Patricia Fair3 and Mark P. Styczynski1, (1)School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, (2)Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA, (3)NOAA, Charleston, SC

Metabolomics is a powerful downstream method to study the response of organisms to perturbations they may encounter either naturally or due to external factors. This technique is being increasingly brought to bear on different model organisms to explore their metabolic repertoire and get a better understanding of their biochemical workings. One such organism is the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus. This is an extremely important animal studied for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that they are apex predators in the food chain and thus likely reflective of overall ecosystem health. Of late there has been increased concern about the conservation status of these animals, as they are subject to numerous sources of natural and anthropogenic stresses. The physiological impact of these stresses is unclear, including the potential for anthropogenic stressors compounding the negative effects of otherwise tolerated natural stressors.

Here we present our work investigating the metabolic differences between wild and managed care dolphins to assess the impacts of different potential stress environments on their physiological state. Serum samples were acquired, in many cases from existing studies, that allowed the assessment of the metabolic differences between four different populations of dolphins using two-dimensional gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. These groups are believed to have different levels of anthropogenic stress based on the level of handling and interaction they have with humans.  Numerous differences were detected between these four groups which do not seem to be accounted for through variety of diet alone. Moreover, we also found that while chemicals annotated as metabolites are sufficient to provide some separation between the different classes, inclusion of unannotated metabolites via untargeted metabolomics significantly improves the separation between the groups. This suggests that the differences between these animals may be driven by portions of metabolism not typically focused upon in metabolomic studies, and may drive future efforts to characterize these analytes.


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See more of this Session: Proteomics & Metabolomic Approaches to Systems Biology
See more of this Group/Topical: Topical Conference: Systems Biology