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A milestone in aquatic toxicology

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Researchers at the US Environmental Protection Agency and the University of Minnesota – Crookston marked a significant milestone in the field of aquatic toxicology with publication of the first generation of annotations to the genomic sequence of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). The fathead minnow, sometimes called "white rat of aquatic toxicity testing," has been widely used in North America for testing the effects of chemicals on aquatic organisms and ecosystems for over 50 years. Results of standard toxicity tests with the species are used to set water quality standards and guidelines, evaluate the safety of pesticides and high production volume chemicals, evaluate the toxicity of industrial and domestic waste-waters, and to screen chemicals for endocrine disrupting properties. Nonetheless, the genome of this important toxicity testing organism was largely uncharacterized.

In an article published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ET&C), Travis Saari and co-authors announced public release of first generation annotations for the fathead minnow genome, which through partnership with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), are now accessible from http://www.setac.org/fhm-genome through an interactive genome browser. While the authors caution that the first draft assembly remains fragmented and some of the gene predictions and annotations are still subject to error, the data represent a major leap forward in genome-scale information available for the species. It is expected that this information will open up many new avenues for research with the species and enhance their utility for 21st century ecotoxicology.

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Jen Lynch
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/etc.3929

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