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Russia: Biotesting Fruit Flies Might Be Sensitive Biotesters for Oil Production Hazards

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

A team of researches at the TPU Department of Geoecology and Geochemistry is developing a biological method that uses fruit flies for the assessment of the toxicity of oil waste. Currently, scientists are conducting experiments with drilling waste samples collected in the Russian regions of Tomsk and Tyumen.

A comparison of a mutated fly (white color) and a fly without mutations.
A comparison of a mutated fly (white color) and a fly without mutations.
(Source: Tomsk Polytechnic University)

Tomsk/Russia — Depending on the threat they pose, different types of waste are classified in certain classes. Class 5 is not harmful. However, such waste requires obligatory biotesting on animal species such as Daphnia and Infusoria, using a certified standard.

The head of the Department of Geoecology and Geochemistry at the Tomsk Polytechnic University, Egor Yasikov, claims that his team has developed a more sensitive biotesting method based on fruit flies.

According to a publication of the Russian scientists, their ‘sensitive’ biotesting method would accurately determine whether Class V waste is harmful for living organisms or not.

“Special drilling solutions resulting in chemical products are used at the drilling process. Each company is using its own solutions. The composition of which is not disclosed. Therefore, it is impossible to say in advance whether these substances are toxic or not,” says a PhD student of the Department of Geoecology and Geochemistry Alexandra Mishunina.

“We investigate a general environmental impact of sludge, as well as their possible impact on living organisms. In the laboratory we conduct experiments on relatively simple forms of organisms: varying from bacteria and algae to fruit flies. Having discovered the impact of waste on small organisms, we can predict an impact on large animals and even on humans,” says the PhD student.

According to Egor Yasikov, in the course of the experiment ‘clean lines’ of fruit flies (initially without a mutation) are placed in vials containing agar-agar nutrient solution as well as sludge samples from different oilfields. Agar-agar is a nutrient for Drosophila, which they are fed during a period of 10 days. During this period Drosophila gives offspring. At present scientists study this new generation of flies.

“Studying algae, we found a large percentage of mutations, less in flies as we register only visible mutations. Thus, among laboratory mutated flies were albino, with twisted or underdeveloped wings, with a curved hairline. However, to date we cannot predict for sure the hazardous impact of sludge: a lot of tests should be conducted additionally,” adds Alexandra Mishunina.

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