Marine pollution bulletin

A selection of reference genes and early-warning mRNA biomarkers for environmental monitoring using Mytilus spp. as sentinel species.

PMID 25037875


mRNA biomarkers are promising tools for environmental health assessment and reference genes are needed to perform relevant qPCR analyses in tissue samples of sentinel species. In the present study, potential reference genes and mRNA biomarkers were tested in the gills and digestive glands of native and caged mussels (Mytilus spp.) exposed to harbor pollution. Results highlighted the difficulty to find stable reference genes in wild, non-model species and suggested the use of normalization indices instead of single genes as they exhibit a higher stability. Several target genes were found differentially expressed between mussel groups, especially in gills where cyp32, π-gst and CuZn-sod mRNA levels could be biomarker candidates. Multivariate analyses confirmed the ability of mRNA levels to highlight site-effects and suggested the use of several combined markers instead of individual ones. These findings support the use of qPCR technology and mRNA levels as early-warning biomarkers in marine monitoring programs.