Katrin Chambers

Katrin Chambers is pursuing a M.S. degree in Soil Science. She graduated from Bemidji State University in Minnesota with B.S. Degrees in Biology and Chemistry. Prior to starting her graduate study she worked as a Quality Control Microbiologist at Solvay Pharmaceutical in Baudette, Minnesota. She was also contracted with the US EPA as an Aquatic Biologist in Duluth. Katrin’s present research focuses on developing a means to quantify estrogenic potency of estrogen bound to dissolved and colloidal organic carbon, and also field evaluation of this method.

Email: katrin.chambers@ndsu.edu

Bioavailability of Dissolved and Colloidal Organic Carbon Bound Estrogen

Fellow: Katrin Bella Chambers

Advisor: Frank Casey, Ph.D., Professor, Soil Science

Co-Advisor: Thomas DeSutter, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Soil Science

Degree Progress: M.S. in Soil Science expected graduation in December 2011.


The natural estrogen, 17-Estradiol (E2), is the most potent endocrine disrupting compound, where part per trillion concentrations can induce reproductive abnormalities in sensitive organisms. Estradiol is frequently detected in the environment at concentrations that could impact water quality. Estrogenic hormones will preferentially associate with dissolved (DOC) and colloidal (COC) organic carbon in soil and sediments, playing a significant role in the fate and transport of E2. Field studies have found significant correlations between estrogen detections and DOC and COC in soil leachate and river water. Although the association of E2 with DOC/COC can potentially facilitate its transport and persistence it is also important to identify whether the DOC/COC affects estrogen’s toxicological effects.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate if E2 bound to DOC/COC is of concern to organisms in the environment. The bioavailability of estradiol bound to DOC/COC will be assessed using estrogen receptor bioassays, which will be used as analogues to measure hormone receptor binding strength.

Project Objectives:

  1. Develop a bioassay method to evaluated the estrogenic potency for estrogen detection
  2. Characterize DOC (dissolved organic carbon) and COC (colloidal organic carbon) derived from swine lagoon slurry
  3. Measure the estrogenicity of estradiol bound to swine manure-derived DOC/COC
  4. Evaluate field samples using the bioassay technique


A preliminary survey of bioassay responses to various preservatives, E2 concentrations, and DOC/COC concentrations has been conducted.

Wells and control drainage structures have been installed in the field site located in Embden, North Dakota. Baseline water quality and have been collected, preserved, and analyzed for DOC/COC. Physical soil properties are also being measured.


Estradiol is very potent and detections are widespread in the environment. However, connections between toxicological significance and environmental detections of estrogens are largely unknown. To date, there is no real objective data that provides toxicological implications of hormone detections in the environment. Additionally, this research will be beneficial in the context of manure management, and its impacts on water quality.

Research Outcome:

A benefit of the proposed project will be to identify whether E2 bound to DOC/COC is a cause of concern. Furthermore, this proposed study will provide a new tool to assess the relative estrogenicity of hormone detections in the environment.

Frank Casey

Advisor: Frank Casey, Ph.D.
Program Leader,
Department of Soil Science
North Dakota State University
Phone: 701-231-8577
Email: Francis.Casey@ndsu.edu
Webpage: http://www.soilsci.ndsu.nodak.edu/casey/casey.html

Thomas DeSutter

Co-Advisor: Thomas DeSutter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Soil Science
North Dakota State University
Phone: (701) 231-8690
Fax: (701) 231-7861
Email: Thomas.DeSutter@ndsu.edu