by Tsing Mui on November 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm
Metabolomics, the study of molecules involved in an animal’s metabolism, has been successful in determining the health of whale sharks when traditional blood chemistry tests have failed. A study, led by Dr. Alistair Dove, Director of Research & Conservation at Georgia Aquarium and an adjunct professor at Georgia Tech, found that the major difference between healthy and unhealthy sharks was the concentration of homarine in their in serum, indicating that homarine is a useful biomarker of health status for the species.
Previous research and observations showed that traditional veterinary blood chemistry tests were not as useful with whale sharks; most likely because such tests are designed for mammals and comparatively less is known about shark and ray blood. Dr. Dove and six colleagues from Georgia Tech set out to significantly increase knowledge of whale shark biochemistry by examining the metabolite composition of all six whale sharks which have been cared for at Georgia Aquarium. By using metabolomics, the researchers were able to determine which chemical compounds were present in the shark blood, without knowing ahead of time what they are.
Source: Science Daily
Photo: DJ Mattaar/Shutterstock