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Brunel and Southampton Universities Won UKRI £355K funding to help protect fish biodiversity


Brunel and Southampton Universities Won UKRI £355K funding to help protect fish biodiversity

We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, which is leading to the sixth mass extinction event after the last one 65.5 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs from existence. Climate change, habitat loss, and chemical pollution are some of the factors driving this loss of biodiversity. However, chemical pollution is often overlooked in discussions on measures to restore biodiversity, despite its impact on sensitive species. In a bid to protect the remaining wildlife, Southampton and Brunel University researchers are seeking to understand the factors that determine individual species' sensitivity to pollutants.

Dr. Matloob Khushi from the Department of Computer Science, Brunel University and Associate Professor Nick Bury from Southampton University have won a £355,000 grant from UKRI NEC to study fish species' sensitivity to synthetic glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids and progestins. The study aims to develop AI-based bioinformatics in-silico approaches to predict receptor phenotype and species' sensitivity and confirm these predictions by conducting functional analysis.

The study, which will involve 18 fish species from 14 orders, will provide valuable insights into the impact of chemical pollution on fish and other aquatic species. By identifying species with hypersensitive receptors, we can devise measures to protect them from exposure to pollutants. The in-silico approach will also pave the way for more efficient and cost-effective ways to identify species that are at risk of exposure to pollutants.

The project will help understand the impact of chemical pollution on sensitive species which is crucial to protecting the remaining wildlife and reversing the trend of biodiversity loss.