Flow Cytometry as a Technique to Monitor the Effects of Environmental Genotoxins on Wildlife Populations

  • John W. Bickham
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 38)


A critical environmental issue facing society is the problem of toxic waste disposal. The escape of toxins into the environment has resulted in local (e.g., Love Canal) or regional (e.g., Chernobyl) human health problems. The threat to human health posed by such pollution is profound, including both short-term and long-term effects. Environmental mutagens can cause somatic mutations that result in cancer or germ cell mutations that lead to impaired fertility or birth defects. Heritable mutations can affect levels of genetic polymorphism and evolutionary processes. Thus, the effects of exposure to such contaminants might be expressed years after the immediate problem has been resolved. Indeed, future generations as well as ourselves are at risk. Therefore, the detection of environmental mutagens, and the development of techniques to accomplish this, should be a high research priority for both health-related and environmental-related agencies. The primary focus of the author’s laboratory has been the comparative cytogenetics and population genetics of various wildlife species. Investigations into vertebrate chromosomal evolution have led to an interest in mutagenesis and the role that environmental mutagens play in ecological and evolutionary processes.


Polluted Site Environmental Mutagen Slider Turtle Germ Cell Mutation Petrochemical Waste 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • John W. Bickham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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