This pilot project provided funding to evaluate if a new environmental monitoring method, transcriptomics, could be used to improve the Council's Long-Term Environmental Monitoring Program (LTEMP).
Transcriptomics involves measuring how particular genes are being expressed in an organism of interest, in this case blue mussels. The particular genes are linked to environmental stressors including ocean acidification, temperature, disease, heavy metal contamination, and oil pollution.
In June 2019, mussels were collected from sampling locations in Port Valdez to measure if they were subject to any of those environmental stressors. The 2019 transcriptomic results showed that the blue mussels were responding to heavy metal contamination and oil pollution in Port Valdez. This pilot project will continue in 2020, and the results from the 2019 and 2020 work will be used to determine if transcriptomics should become a regular part of the Council’s LTEMP.