The Development of a Biosensor to Screen Possible Pharmaceuticals from Algal Extracts
Presented by: Jill Mooney
Mentor: Phil McFadden
Dept. of Biochemistry & Biophysics, Oregon State University

The goal of this research project is to correlate biosensor activity to pharrnacological activity of algal extracts. A biosensor assay under development in Dr. McFadden's lab is used to prepare fish scales for algal extract screening. The degree of aggregation and dispersion in chromatophore cells, specifically melanophores, is detennined using the melanophore index rating system. A pool of 28 extracts has been tested. The scales are placed in contact with an extract for twenty-four hours and then tested by exposure with norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is known to cause complete melanophore aggregation. The algal extracts have caused two basic effects. First, after the extract has been placed on the scale for twenty-four hours a direct effect is shown in which the extract causes melanophore aggregation. The second basic effect is that after the scales have been in contact with an extract for twenty-four hours no aggregation results. Then when the scales are placed in contact with I OnM norepinephrine no aggregation occurs. Therefore, these extracts cause melanophore impainnent. The activity of melanophore aggregation or loss of ability to aggregate suggests that melanophores are useful in screening active algal extracts.