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The Martyniuk Lab investigates the effects of chemical contaminants on broad biological systems such as the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system-microbiome, and reproductive system. Some examples of current research projects are listed below.

Transgenic fish

Contaminants and the nervous system:

We use cell models and the zebrafish model to determine the mechanisms of environmental toxicants, focusing specifically on pesticides that have been associated with Parkinsons disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The cell lines we use are dopaminergic from both rat and human, as well as primary cell cultures including astrocytes and neurons. We also use Crispr technology to understand the functional significance of genes during pesticide exposures.

Example Publications:

Schmidt JT, Rushin A, Boyda J, Souders CL 2nd, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Dieldrin-induced neurotoxicity involves impaired mitochondrial bioenergetics and an endoplasmic reticulum stress response in rat dopaminergic cells. Neurotoxicology 63:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2017.08.007.

Wang XH, Souders CL 2nd, Zhao YH, Martyniuk CJ. 2018. Paraquat affects mitochondrial bioenergetics, dopamine system expression, and locomotor activity in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Chemosphere 191:106-117. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.

Cowie AM, Sarty KI, Mercer A, Koh J, Kidd KA, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Molecular networks related to the immune system and mitochondria are targets for the pesticide dieldrin in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) central nervous system. J Proteomics 157:71-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2017.02.003.

We aim to link neurotoxicity and neurological impairment to behavior, by measuring different behaviors using specialized tracking software (Daniovision). This better links toxicant exposure to specific adverse outcome pathways.

Example Publications:

Shontz EC, Souders CL 2nd, Schmidt JT, Martyniuk CJ. 2018. Domperidone upregulates dopamine receptor expression and stimulates locomotor activity in larval zebrafish (Danio rerio). Genes Brain Behav. Jan 27. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12460. [Epub ahead of print].

Wang XH, Souders CL 2nd, Zhao YH, Martyniuk CJ. 2018. Mitochondrial bioenergetics and locomotor activity are altered in zebrafish (Danio rerio) after exposure to the bipyridylium herbicide diquat. Toxicol Lett. 283:13-20. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.10.022. 

Xuefang Liang
Xuefang Liang presenting her research on tributytin.

Xuefang, a visiting scientist from China, recently studied the effect of the neurotoxin tributyltin on zebrafish development at concentrations currently present in some water systems. Her work was recently published in Chemosphere. Congratulations, Xuefang!

Edward Schontz, dopamine receptor family, ZF embryos
Edward Schontz, dopamine receptor family, ZF embryos


Edward Shontz presented his project which characterized the dopaminergic system in developing zebrafish embryos. This research is important as ZF are increasingly used as a model for human neurodegenerative disease. Edward is now studying to become a medical doctor. Congratulations, Edward!


Awesome job Nirali!


UF Veterinary DVM student Nirali Pathak at the NVSS Symposium (Minnesota) presenting the lasted on canine CRISPR approaches for gene therapy.



Genetics Symposium

Genetics Symposium       


 Congrats to Tora, Liz, and all the students and their amazing presentations at the Florida Genetics Symposium 2022



Adverse outcome pathways for mitochondrial bioenergetics:

Mitochondrial dysfunction is a significant contributor to human neurodegenerative diseases. We are developing adverse outcome pathways for mitochondrial dysfunction using computational approaches to identify chemicals that potentially affect oxidative phosphorylation. We conduct these high-throughput toxicity assays in both cell culture and whole embryos.

Example Publications:

Zhang JL, Laurence Souders C 2nd, Denslow ND, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Quercetin, a natural product supplement, impairs mitochondrial bioenergetics and locomotor behavior in larval zebrafish (Danio rerio). Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 327:30-38. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2017.04.024.

Computational toxicology

RNA-seq, proteomics, and metabolomics are used to understand complex signaling cascades related to toxicant exposures in both rodent and fish models. Pathway analysis is used to identify novel mechanisms of action, and to support the adverse outcome pathway framework.

Example Publications:

Liang X, Feswick A, Simmons D, Martyniuk CJ. 2018. Environmental toxicology and omics: A question of sex. J Proteomics. 172:152-164. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2017.09.010.

Feswick A, Munkittrick KR, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Estrogen-responsive gene networks in the teleost liver: What are the key molecular indicators? Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 56:366-374. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2017.10.012.

Dreier DA, Denslow ND, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Computational analysis of the ToxCast estrogen receptor agonist assays to predict vitellogenin induction by chemicals in male fish. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 53:177-183. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2017.05.015.

Zubcevic J, Baker A, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Transcriptional networks in rodent models support a role for gut-brain communication in neurogenic hypertension: a review of the evidence. Physiol Genomics. 49(7):327-338. doi: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00010.2017.

Cowie AM, Sarty KI, Mercer A, Koh J, Kidd KA, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. Molecular networks related to the immune system and mitochondria are targets for the pesticide dieldrin in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) central nervous system. J Proteomics 157:71-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2017.02.003.

Obesogens and the microbiome

Chemicals can affect lipid signaling in the body and some have been labelled “obesogens”. We study how these chemicals affect signaling pathways related to lipids. We can use transgenic ZF to investigate the extent of gut inflammation present after exposure to a chemical of interest. We are interested in understanding the connection between the gut microbiota and inflammation in rodent and fish models.

We use transgenic zebrafish (e.g. NF-kappa B) to understand how chemicals activate inflammation in the gut.

Example Publications:

Yang T, Ahmari N, Schmidt JT, Redler T, Arocha R, Pacholec K, Magee KL, Malphurs W, Owen JL, Krane GA, Li E, Wang GP, Vickroy TW, Raizada MK, Martyniuk CJ, Zubcevic J. 2017. Shifts in the Gut Microbiota Composition Due to Depleted Bone Marrow Beta Adrenergic Signaling Are Associated with Suppressed Inflammatory Transcriptional Networks in the Mouse Colon. Front Physiol. 8:220. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00220.

Recently, UF veterinary student Amy Hanlon presented her work on gut neuropeptides in ZF regulated by DEHP – a type of plastic that is found in many consumer products such as toys and bottles. Dr. Adamovsky explored sex-specific differences in the transcriptomic responses of ZF gut after exposure to DEHP.

Environmental monitoring and risk assessment:

After identifying pathways that are regulated by environmental contaminants in animal models, we aim to leverage this information for environmental monitoring and risk assessment for toxicants of concern. We try to understand how transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics information can be used to protect the environment, wildlife, and human health.

Example Publications:

Marjan P, Bragg LM, MacLatchy DL, Servos MR, Martyniuk CJ. 2017. How Does Reference Site Selection Influence Interpretation of Omics Data?: Evaluating Liver Transcriptome Responses in Male Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum) across an Urban Environment. Environ Sci Technol. 51(11):6470-6479. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b00894.

Bahamonde PA, Feswick A, Isaacs MA, Munkittrick KR, Martyniuk CJ. 2016. Defining the role of omics in assessing ecosystem health: Perspectives from the Canadian environmental monitoring program. Environ Toxicol Chem. 35(1):20-35. doi: 10.1002/etc.3218.