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Your Environment. Your Health.

University of California, San Diego

Understanding natural production of polybrominated toxins and pollutants

Vinayak Agarwal, Ph.D.
vagarwal@ucsd.edu

NIEHS Grant: R00ES026620

Several molecules bearing multiple bromine atoms that are naturally produced in the marine ecosystem are known to be harmful to human health and the environment. However, scientists do not understand how these molecules are made, nor do they know the identities of their producers. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego are using a metagenome mining approach to characterize the biosynthetic routes of polybrominated pollutants and toxins. These natural marine products can biomagnify in the marine food web and be passed onto humans via seafood consumption. Data from this study will be used to drive the discovery of new natural sources of these polybrominated pollutants and could help improve public health policies aimed at mitigating exposure to these naturally produced harmful chemicals.