dCod 360

Atlantic cod liver reveals marine pollution

Visit the dCod-lab in a 360 film above. Have a look while we explain why atlantic cod liver is important for science.

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There are many reasons for studying toxicological responses in Atlantic cod. For examle, the coastal cod is locally bound in many Norwegian fjords. During its lifetime, pollutants from the local environment will be stored in the fatty cod liver. 

Post doc Marta Eide from the dCod project explains (in Norwegian):

Dette er dCod

The ultimate aim of the dCod 1.0 project is to develop new tools for environmental monitoring and risk assessment. These will aid government and industry to better handle pollution in the marine environment.

The scientists are studying how different compunds affect the cod. Particularly, exposure to mixtures of contaminants are important to understand environmentally relevant situations.

Seeing as the cod liver is the main detoxifying organ, dCod scientists are interested in the gen material here. How are the genes used? What genes are turned on and off? What are the consequences for the cells? These are all questions for the scientists to consider.

Researcher Dorothy Dankel explains:


The resulting amount of data is huge; every cell contains about 20,000 genes. When each gene responds differently to different proteins, the data analyses gets challenging. 

To lead way in this joungle of numbers, biologists work together with mathematicians, statisticians and bioinformaticians in the dCod project. 

While others just talk about Big data, the project has dealt with this for years. It is all about extracting the most interesting aspects. The data that can explain what is happening within the cod when it is exposed to certain environmental pollutants. 

What is worrying, is that the pollution does not have to be fatal to negatively affect the cod. Even very low doses can have consequences for the populations. In turn, this can affect the sustenance of Norwegian fisheries. 

Creativity leads to good solutions. The researchers have held caged cod in Kollevåg outside Bergen. At this old dump site, the fish were kept for six weeks before it was sampled.

  •  Follow the project: dcod.no, or using @dcodprodj and #dcodproj in social media.

Look at the sampling of cod caged in Kollevåg:

Caged cod in Kollevågen

Marta Eide, Dorothy J Dankel, Anders Goksøyr

The dCod 1.0-project