Aoife Parsons




In fish thyroid hormones mediate various developmental processes, influencing brain and skeletal development, regulating the rate of early life development and playing a key role in the events of metamorphosis. Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are found widely in the environment and affect endocrine function principally by altering thyroid hormone homeostasis. Exposures to BFRs has been shown to disrupt circulating levels of T3 and/or T4 in rodents and fish. Though many traditional BFRs (PBDEs and HBCDs) have recently been phased out they are still widely detected in the environment. Furthermore, in order that existing fire safely regulations are met, the use of replacement BFR products is increasing. These novel BFRs are similar in structure to their predessors and are a growing concern given their potential to act as thyroid disruptors. The molecular mechanisms underlying thyroid disruption by BFRs are however still poorly understood. The overall objective of this project is to address this knowledge gap by using zebrafish embryos to determine tissue targets, mechanistic effected pathways, and the potential health impacts of both traditional and emerging BFRs. My work involves both in vitro and in vivo exposures whilst employing reporter gene assays, whole mount in situ hybridisation, qRT-PCR and Northern blot techniques to address these questions.

Supervision: Prof. Charles Tyler Dr. Tetsu Kudoh and Prof. Tom Hutchinson (Cefas)

Funding Body: DEFRA and Ministry for Environment of Japan


2005-2009 BSc (Hons) Zoology, Trinity College Dublin

2012-2011 MSc Conservation and Biodiversity, University of Exeter


Lab 201, Biosciences College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Geoffrey Pope, University of Exeter Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QD