How toxic is your fish?

PhD candidate Rajani Jagtap, the recipient of the Best Student Research Presentation Award in Risk Assessment and Environmental Monitoring, discusses her findings towards measuring mercury and selenium species in sediments and fish.

Experience at IAE

“Studying at the IAE has been a very good experience.  My primary supervisor, Prof. Bill Maher always supported me throughout my candidature.  He is always available to give me valuable advice regarding my project. With the funding of IAE I was able to present my PhD work at different conferences within Australia and also an overseas conference at Berlin.”

My PhD

“My PhD research project comprises developing methods for the measurement of mercury and selenium species in marine sediments and fish tissues. This project is essential to understand the accumulation of these elements in the aquatic organisms.

It is, however, insufficient information as the biological actions of mercury & selenium are dependent on the physical properties of various chemical forms.  Mercury is converted into the toxic methyl mercury form by undergoing biogeochemical transformation processes and bioaccumulates and biomagnifies in aquatic food webs to concentrations of toxicological concern.  Selenium is taken up by animals and mainly present as selenomethionine and selenocysteine bound within proteins.  The narrow margin between the beneficial and toxic levels of selenium has important implications on human health.”

“My research project, therefore, involves method development to measure the concentrations of the chemical forms of these elements, which can be toxic or essential to human health. This included: a method was developed for the measurement of methyl mercury and inorganic mercury concentrations in fish muscle tissues and sediment samples; and two separate methods were developed for the measurement of selenium species (selenomethionine and selenocysteine) concentrations in marine fish tissues.”

Rajani has presented at numerous conferences about her PhD, and received the Best Student Research Presentation Award received in Risk Assessment and Environmental Monitoring at SETAC Australasia 2014 conference.