Tamsyn Uren-Webster in the lab

Dr Eduarda Santos

Tamsyn Uren-Webster in the lab

Dr Eduarda Santos
Senior Lecturer in Environmental Biology

Research

Research interests

The research focus in my group is to understand the dynamics of sexual development and function, and how environmental stressors impact on reproduction and health in fish. This area of research is a vast and exiting one and potentially benefits aquaculture and fisheries as well as environmental and human health.

Our research to date spanned from investigations into the endocrine regulation of oocyte development in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), to the identification of the gene pathways underlying sexual dimorphism in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) and how they are disrupted by exposure to oestrogens. This work established links between the gene pathways disrupted by ethinyloestradiol, a potent oestrogen present in the contraceptive pill and widespread in the environment, and the decrease in fecundity in zebrafish colonies. The project raised wide interest and was presented at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition in 2004.

Further research has aimed to establishing the effects of exposure to model environmental chemicals (including a synthetic oestrogen (ethinyloestradiol), a metal (copper) and a polyaromatic hydrocarbon (dibenzanthracene)) at the individual and population levels, in three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). This work resulted in the discovery of the involvement of the cholesterol biosynthesis pathway in the toxicological response to copper in this species. These studies were conducted using a systems biology approach where genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics and population level datasets are integrated to generate a global picture of the consequences of exposure to environmental chemicals in wild populations of fish.

Current projects in my laboratory are focusing on the effects of chemicals stressors on the brown trout (Salmo trutta), a species of ecological and economic importance in UK waters. To address this issue, we are sequencing the transcriptome of the brown trout and using RNA-Seq strategies to provide a comprehensive analysis of the mechanisms of toxicity of a range of chemicals on this species.

We are also investigating the effects of combined stressors on the physiology of a number of fish species, to provide a more realistic analysis of the stressors that fish encounter in their environment.

Research grants

  • 2013 PhD studentship (SWDTP)
    Using integrative physiology to improve the sustainability of fish aquaculture. Co-I.
  • 2013 PhD studentship (Fisheries Society of the British Isles)
    Differential susceptibility to copper in wild populations of three-spined stickleback. PI.
  • 2012 Visiting PhD Studentship (National Taiwan University)
    The role of DNA methylation on sexual determination and development in zebrafish germ cells. PI
  • 2012 PhD Studentship (CEFAS and University of Exeter)
    Effects of hypoxia on the toxicity of model chemicals in the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). PI
  • 2012 Society for Reproduction and Fertility
    The role of DNA methylation on sex determination and development in zebrafish germ cells. PI
  • 2012 Cefas and University of Exeter
    Building a Molecular Platform for Understanding the Host-Pathogen Interface in Invertebrates. CoI
  • 2011 Cefas
    Investigating the potential molecular mechanisms associated with white spot virus resistance in Carcinus maenas. CoI
  • 2011 Fisheries Society of the British Isles
    Searching for evidence of adaptation to copper in a population of three-spined stickleback. PI
  • 2011 Wellcome Trust
    Influence of hypoxia on chemical toxicity during embryogenesis. PI
  • 2011 BBSRC PhD Studentship
    Physiology of gut carbonate production by marine fish - roles of hypoxia and sex hormones. CoI
  • 2009 NERC CASE Studentship (open competition)
    PhD studentship (with the Salmon and Trout Association) - Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and the sustainability of brown trout populations in the UK: relative impact of EDCs compared with other environmental stressors. PI
  • 2009 AstraZeneca
    DTI KTP - Implementation of Molecular Tools into chemical testing. CoI
  • 2008 Royal Society Travel Grant
    Travel grant to attend the SETAC Europe 18th Annual Meeting
  • 2008 Royal Society Research Grant
    Identifying the molecular basis of sexual dominance in male zebrafish.
  • 2004 Fisheries Society of the British Isles
    Travel Grant to attend the 5th International Symposium on Fish Endocrinology.

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