Developing of a novel bioassay for detecting low-level mutagens in water.

Student: Nicholas Kyratzis, 2014-2015

Sponsor: Prof. Holly Goodson - Chemistry, Notre Dame, IN

“Given the large number of chemicals (both natural and manmade) in our environment, food, and water, it is important to develop inexpensive and effective tests that can determine the potential of these compounds to harm us so that human exposure can be limited. The goal this project is to develop the use of whole genome sequencing of yeast grown in continuous culture systems as the foundation for a new quantitative test for mutagenicity (propensity to promote DNA mutation) that is more sensitive than existing tests. This new test is designed to provide better information about the effects of low levels of mutagen, and importantly provide improved analysis of the long-term safety of complex mixtures of compounds at low levels such as those found in reclaimed water. The project utilizes yeast grown in a set of inexpensive bench top continuous culture systems. Preliminary data acquired using these systems and a plate-based assay show that we can detect the mutagen MMS at levels at least 40x below the limit of the standard Ames test for this mutagen. While the plate-based assay is useful and appropriate for lab- based work, we are presently working to develop a more quantitative and scalable version of the test that uses whole genome sequencing of yeast grown in the continuous culture system.”