Public Affairs

CSU’s COAST, Others to Convene at Global PRIMO Sessions
to Address Toxins in Aquatic Life, May 15-18 in Long Beach

Researchers from 26 countries to discuss how pollutants – like oil, drugs, plastics and pesticides – affect organisms – like mussels,
fish, whales, crabs and frogs

(May 11, 2011) - At the 16th international PRIMO conference Sunday to Wednesday, May 15-18, scientists from 26 different countries will convene in Long Beach to share updates on ocean acidification, contaminated seafood, the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and other emerging issues.

Short for “Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms,” the PRIMO symposium is supported by several organizations – including the California State University’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology (COAST), which is sponsoring a session on “Impacts of Changing Ocean Conditions.”

In roughly 120 talks, researchers from around the world will present findings related to societal and industrial toxins in rainbow trout, English sole, tilapia, clams, whales, mussels, frogs, seals, and other sea life. Based on studies conducted around the world, topics will address, for example, what antidepressants do to crabs; what heavy metals do to young white sharks; and what flame-retardants do to burbot, a widely distributed freshwater codfish.

Other talks will focus on tracking animals, reading “biomarkers” to assay the levels of toxins, measuring chemical bioaccumulation, measuring bioaccumulations, and exploring how pollution-altered hormone levels disrupt reproduction and other functions.

Several CSU faculty will present findings from recent investigations conducted with student researchers and other colleagues on key issues, among them:

  • Lars Tomanek of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on the use of proteomics (the integrated and comprehensive assessment of an organism’s proteins) to gauge the impacts of climate change;
  • Sean Anderson of CSU Channel Islands on ecological damage caused by the Gulf oil spill; and
  • Kevin Kelley of CSU Long Beach on toxin-induced liver changes and hormonal disruptions in fish off the Southern California coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program at University of Southern California will present a day-long “short course” on how society’s contaminants can disrupt the non-reproductive hormone systems in aquatic life – systems that control thyroid activity, growth, stress-response, metabolism, immune-response and other activities in marine animals.

The workshop will be Sunday, May 15, at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Santa Catalina Island. It will address case studies of neuroendocrine disruption, its underlying mechanisms and chemicals, current technical approaches to its study, and the consequences of endocrine disruption in animals and ecosystems. (Kelley of CSU Long Beach will be one of the workshop’s three panelists.)

Aside from COAST and the USC Sea Grant program, the PRIMO conference has 10 other sponsors.


(Note to reporters: There is limited availability for journalists to attend a day-long course – Sunday, May 15, at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Santa Catalina Island – on how pollutants alter hormonal functions in marine organisms. Round-trip boat transportation will be provided from Long Beach. For details, contact Professor Kevin Kelley of CSU Long Beach at or 562-985-4294, or CSU Science Communications Advisor Sean Kearns at or 707-826-3338. The workshop is presented by the NOAA Sea Grant program at the University of Southern California.)

Organizers/media liaisons for PRIMO 16 conference:

Kevin Kelley (short course on endocrine disruption)
Professor & Director, Environmental Endocrinology Laboratory
California State University, Long Beach (562) 985-4294

Andrew Zed Mason (abstracts and web site)
Dean Research and External Support
California State University, Long Beach (562) 985-5266

Daniel Schlenk (scientific program)
Professor of Aquatic Ecotoxicology, University of California, Riverside
Co-Editor-in-Chief, Aquatic Toxicology (951) 827-2018

Linda Duguay (Wrigley Marine Science Center)
Deputy Director, USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies
Director, USC Sea Grant Program, University of Southern California (213) 821-1335


About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 412,000 students and 43,000 faculty and staff.  The CSU awards about 90,000 degrees annually and since its creation in 1961 has conferred nearly 2.6 million.  Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces.  The mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever changing needs of the people of California.  With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California.

Connect with and learn more about the CSU at CSU Social Media.