From: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Published November 3, 2017 02:38 PM

Can Environmental Toxins Disrupt the Biological ''Clock''?

Can environmental toxins disrupt circadian rhythms – the biological “clock” whose disturbance is linked to chronic inflammation and a host of human disorders? Research showing a link between circadian disruption and plankton that have adapted to road salt pollution puts the question squarely on the table.

“This research shows that exposure to environmental toxins may be depressing the function of our circadian clock, the disruption of which is linked to increased rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression,” said Jennifer Hurley, an assistant professor of biological sciences, a member of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and senior author on this research. “This is the first time anyone has shown this happening at the level of the core clock, which we had considered to be heavily buffered against these types of environmental effects.”

The research builds on recent findings from the Jefferson Project at Lake George, showing that a common species of zooplankton, Daphnia pulex, can evolve tolerance to moderate levels of road salt in as little as two and a half months. That research produced five populations of Daphnia adapted to salt concentrations ranging from the current concentration of 15 milligrams per liter of chloride in Lake George, to concentrations of 1,000 milligrams per liter as found in highly contaminated lakes in North America.

Read more at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Image Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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