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Genomic Technologies in Biomonitoring

Water Quality Control

  1. Michael J. Carvan III,
  2. Matthew L. Rise,
  3. Rebecca D. Klaper

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.wq373

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Carvan, M. J., Rise, M. L. and Klaper, R. D. 2005. Genomic Technologies in Biomonitoring. Water Encyclopedia. 2:58–64.

Author Information

  1. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Biological monitoring, or biomonitoring, is defined as using measurements of the resident biota in surface waters to evaluate the condition of the aquatic environment (1). In part, biological monitoring in the United States is designed to satisfy the goals of the Clean Water Act, which aims to protect wildlife in and on the water and eliminate discharge in toxic amounts into navigable water. Biomonitoring has inherent advantages over simply measuring the presence or concentration of a particular stressor or toxin due to the fact that organisms represent an integrated response to factors in their environment over time. Biomonitoring in aquatic habitats traditionally involved measuring the diversity within the community of macroinvertebrates, fish, or periphyton using species diversity, composition with respect to functional groups, or genetic diversity (2). Community indices have inherent problems. For example, streams can include a large spatial variance that is not correlated with problems in habitat. In addition, sampling effort can affect diversity measurements, resulting in an increase in the number of species sampled with longer or more frequent sampling times (3). Identification of species is time consuming and can increase the costs associated with these types of measurements due to personnel-hours required (4).

As one alternative, measurement of the concentration of chemicals has been used as a surrogate for biological criteria. These chemical water quality criteria (TMDL or total maximum daily load) have been developed by determining concentrations of compounds that cause acute toxicity to standard test organisms.


  • resident biota;
  • biomonitoring;
  • standard test organisms;
  • genomic tools;
  • PCR products;
  • DNA arrays;
  • ecotoxicogenomic research