Contact Lisa:

Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Geoffrey Pope Building, Room 202
University of Exeter
Stocker Road
Exeter, EX4 4QD

Lisa Bickley


I have a broad background in environmental and aquatic biology, specialising in ecotoxicology research. I have worked in both academic and industrial organisations and have been involved with the coordination of a number of collaborative projects, including a knowledge transfer partnership.

Current Research

Building a molecular platform for understanding host-pathogen interactions in invertebrates.

I am currently employed on a collaborative research project with CEFAS (Centre for Fisheries and Aquaculture Science). The aim of this project is to develop a molecular platform to understand the infection process for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), one of the most ecologically and commercially important diseases of crustaceans.

Previous Research

Investigating the potential molecular mechanisms associated with white spot syndrome virus infection in crustaceans

This was a collaborative pilot study set up to investigate some of the possible molecular mechanisms associated with white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection and resistance in the shore crab, Carcinus maenas. This project was established in order to provide a basic foundation on which to build a molecular project focused around the same topic.

Developing the use of genomics for environmental risk assessment within the pharmaceutical industry

I worked on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project with AstraZeneca, the aims of which were to develop functional genomics biomarkers as effects screens to be used in ecotoxicology (for environmental risk assessment) and toxicology (for human safety assessment). We used molecular approaches (including next generation sequencing [Illumina RNA Seq]) to investigate whether transcriptomic signatures detected following short-term exposure (2 days) to the pharmaceutical diclofenac were predictive of longer term (21 day) signatures and corresponding adverse phenotypic effects on kidney pathology. Here we used the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas), as a model laboratory fish.

Assessing the combined effects of inbreeding and exposure to EDCs in zebrafish

The aim of this research project was to develop an understanding of the combined effects of population inbreeding and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in fish: both on individual fitness (survival, growth & reproductive development) and on reproduction (through competitive breeding studies). During this work we used inbred and outbred zebrafish (Danio rerio) to show that breeding history influences the susceptibility of laboratory zebrafish to EDC exposure effects. The analysis of “effect pathways” linking gene expression (molecular level), gonadal development (tissue/ organ level), growth and reproduction (organism level), sex ratio and paternal/maternal reproductive success (population level) has shown that inbred zebrafish were generally more susceptible to chemical exposure than outbreds. However, this was not universally applicable and not all traits were affected equally. Our data indicate the importance of better understanding the interaction between pollutants and inbreeding. This work provided useful insights in to the environmental relevance of using laboratory strains in ecotoxicology when addressing the consequences of exposure to chemical pollutants on the fitness of wild populations.

Applying in vitro techniques to investigate the effects of environmental contaminants in fish

During my PhD studies I used an in vitro approach to investigate the effects of environmental contaminants in fish. As part of this work I investigated the use of vitellogenin induction (a biomarker of oestrogen exposure) in primary cultures of fish hepatocytes as an approach for screening chemicals for (anti-)oestrogenic activity, including both pharmaceuticals and pesticide compounds. I further investigated the in vivo biological potencies of some of these chemicals, including the equine oestrogen 17β-dihydroequilin (DHQ) (used in hormone replacement therapy), and the pyrethroid pesticide cypermethrin and its degradation products, comparing oestrogenic responses with those results obtained in vitro, in hepatocyte cultures.


Bickley LK, Brown AR, Hosken DJ, Hamilton, PH, LePage G, Paull GC, Owen SF & Tyler CR. 2013. Interactive effects of inbreeding and endocrine disruption on reproduction in a model laboratory fish. Evolutionary Applications 6(2):279-289.

Brown AR, Bickley LK, Ryan TA, Paull GC, Hamilton, PH, Owen SF, Sharpe AD & Tyler CR. 2012. Differences in sexual development in inbred and outbred zebrafish (Danio rerio) and implications for chemical testing. Aquatic Toxicology 112-113:27-38.

Brown AR, Bickley LK, LePage G, Hosken DJ, Paull GC, Hamilton, PH, Owen SF, Robinson J, Sharpe AD & Tyler CR. 2011. Are toxicological responses in laboratory (inbred) zebrafish representative of those in outbred (wild) populations? – A case study with an endocrine disrupting chemical. Environmental Science and Technology 45(9):4166-72.

Brown AR, Hosken DJ, Balloux F, Bickley LK, LePage G, Owen SF, Hetheridge MJ & Tyler CR. 2009. Genetic variation, inbreeding and chemical exposure – combined effects in wildlife and critical considerations for ecotoxicology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, Biological Sciences 364 (1534):3377-90.

Bickley LK, Lange A, Winter MJ & Tyler CR. 2009. Evaluation of a carp primary hepatocyte culture system for screening chemicals for oestrogenic activity. Aquatic Toxicology 94(3): 195-203.

Tyler CR, Filby AL, Bickley LK, Cumming RI, Gibson R, Labadie P, Katsu Y, Liney KE, Shears JA, Silva-Castro V, Urushitani H, Lange A, Winter MJ, Iguchi T & Hill EM. 2009. Environmental health impacts of equine estrogens derived from hormone replacement therapy. Environmental Science and Technology 43(10):3897-904.