gene expression in Gulf killifish.affected
Heart-breaking pictures of seabirds covered in black crude oil, arresting as they are, can miss the hidden story of an oil spill’s impact on wildlife.
Exposure to even tiny concentrations of the chemicals present in oil can also cause harmful biological effects that usually go unnoticed, according to a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.
“It’s striking that even though the analytical chemistry doesn’t indicate exposure, the biology does,” says Andrew Whitehead, a biologist at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who led the study. “We can measure all the chemistry we want in the environment, but if want to know whether organisms have been exposed, we have to ask them.”