Assessing Neurotransmitter Levels in Zebrafish Brains following differential CO2 exposure through LC/MS Analysis


  • Kyle Blacher MacEwan University


Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that enable neurotransmission, which is the transmission of nerve impulses between neurons, or a neuron and a muscle fiber or other structure. Therefore, neurotransmission is important in affecting actions as well as behaviours and it is crucial that the balance of neurotransmitters is maintained in an organism for proper functioning. Climate change is increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) at a drastic rate. This has led to a cascade of negative effects, one of which is the absorption of CO2 into aquatic systems resulting in a decrease in pH and turning the water more acidic. Previous studies found that zebrafish exhibit increased anxiety-like behaviour when exposed to increased levels of CO2. To determine if the changes in anxiety-like behaviour observed were due to alterations in neurotransmitter levels induced by the increased concentrations of CO2, this project will quantify the concentrations of various neurotransmitters in the brains of these CO2 exposed zebrafish. We will use high performance liquid chromatography to separate neurotransmitters based on chemical properties, paired with mass spectrometry to quantify neurotransmitter concentrations. Comparison between the neurotransmitter concentration profiles and the observed behaviour will not only help better the understanding of the effects of acidification on zebrafish behaviour, but the potential impacts of acidification caused by climate change on other aquatic organisms as well.

Department: Biology 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Matthew Ross





Biological Sciences