Show/hide main menu


Dr Nic Bury

Reader in Aquatic Ecotoxicology

Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division
King's College London
3.83 Franklin-Wilkins Building
150 Stamford Street
London SE1 9NH

Tel: 44 (0)20 7848 4091
Fax: 44 (0)20 7848 4500


  • Senior Lecturer, King's College London 2007 – present
  • Lecturer, King's College London 2001 – 2007
  • University Fellowship – University of Exeter, 1999 – 01
  • EU Marie Curie Fellowship – INRA, Rennes, France 1998-99
  • Post-Doc – McMaster University, Canada 1997 - 98
  • Post-Doc – University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands 1995-97
  • PhD – University of Dundee 1992-95 

Research interests

My research group integrates molecular, physiological and toxicological techniques to understand and predict how organisms respond to natural and man-induced stressors. Currently two novel approaches to this research are being pursued.

1. Development of fish cell cultures for studies in bioaccumulation and environmental toxicology.

We have recently developed a primary fish gill cell culture technique that incorporates the different cell types of the gill. This system is unique because when grown on inserts it forms exceptionally tight junctions and is able to tolerate water on the outside. Thus, the gill cell culture is able to mimic the intact gill. An aim of the work is to identify alternatives for whole animal testing and in part is supported by the NC3Rs. There are three current projects

I. Xenobiotic uptake and metabolism

This project assesses the use of the gill cell culture system to characterise the mechanism of for xenobiotic uptake from, and excretion to, the water. This study also assesses the ability of the cell culture system to metabolise xenobitoics. The goal is to explore potential alternatives for bioconcentration factor (BCF) studies. (BBSRC )

II. Gene transcript profiles

This project aims to investigate the transcriptome profiles of the gill cells to different classes of pharmaceuticals to identify on and off-target responses.  (NC3Rs)

II. Environmental monitoring.  

We know that in the gill cells responds to metals in a way that mimics the response of the whole animal and thus they detect bioreactive metals in waters. In this study we successful transported cells to the field and exposed to natural waters known to be contaminated with metals. The cells survived the transport (1000km and 30hrs), exposure to unfiltered river water and responded in a predictable way to metals. Thus, the cells may be a useful for environmental monitoring  and potentially replace the large number of animals used in waste effluent testing procedures. (NERC funded)

2. Metal metabolism and toxicity
The group has a long standing interest in metal homeostasis. This includes the use of in vivo and in vitro methods to better understand the mechanisms of metal uptake and factors that affect toxicity. Recent studies investigate the effects of metal mixtures on metal bioavailability and on the expression of genes in the gills known to be involved in metal acquisition. The aim is to identify transport pathways shared between metals (metal mimicry) and the wider regulatory implications are to identify the toxicity of metal mixtures to fish (funding comes from a Marie Curie Post-doctoral Fellowship to Dr. Irina Komjarova). In addition, over the last 5 years we have worked on a population of brown trout that reside in a river with a legacy of metal pollution dating back to the 19th century. Our work has identified only subtle changes to population genetic structure of these fish and by the use of next-gen sequencing identified potential mechanism for tolerance. The wider implication is an understanding of how fish adapt to environmental change.

3. Corticosteriod receptor functioning and evolution:
In mammals there are two corticosteroid receptors (CRs), glucocorticoid (GRs) and mineralocorticoid (MRs) receptors that control or influence a vast array of cellular functions. For example, they are involved in the stress response, mineral balance, immune system and development. We have recently made an intriguing discovery - teleost fish have two GRs and an MR, the extra GR apparently being retained following the whole genome duplication that occurred in the actinopterygian lineage around 350MYA. The CRs first emerged in early agnathans and current research investigates their functional role in hagfish and early actinopterygians with an aim to identify molecular mechanisms that have lead to the retention of the 2GRs in teleost fish.

Examples of papers:

Gill Cell Culture:

Walker, P.A., N.R. Bury, C. Hogstrand. 2007. Influence of culture conditions on metal-induced responses in a cultured rainbow trout gill epithelium. Environ. Sci. Technol. 41: 6505-6513.

Walker P.A. , P. Kille, A. Scott, N.R. Bury., C. Hogstrand. 2008. An in vitro method to assess toxicity of waterborne metals to fish. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 30:67-77.

Bury, N.R., M. Chung, P. Walker, A. Sturm, Hogstrand, C. 2008. Cortisol stimulates the zinc signalling pathway and expression of metallothioneins and ZnT1 in epithelial cells. Am J Physiol 294: R623-9.

Bury, N.R., Schnell, S., Hogstrand, C. 2014. Gill cell culture systems as models for aquatic environmental monitoring. J Exp Biol, in press

Metal metabolism:

Uren Webster, T.; Bury, N.R.; van Aerle, R.; Santos, E. Global transcriptome profiling reveals molecular mechanisms of metal tolerance in a chronically exposed wild population of brown trout. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013, 47, 8869–8877

Durrant, C., Stevens, J.R., Hogstrand, C., Bury, N.R. 2011.The effect of metal pollution on the population genetic structure of brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) residing in the River Hayle, Cornwall, UK. Environ Poll 159, 3595-3603.

D. Boyle, K. V. Brix, H. Amlund, A-K. Lundebye, C.Hogstrand, N. R. Bury. 2008. Natural arsenic contaminated diets perturb reproduction in fish. Environ. Sci. Technol. 42: 5354-5360.

Corticosteroid receptors

Yi.L., Sturm, A., Cunningham, P., Bury, N.R. 2012. Evidence for a divergence in function between two glucocorticoid receptors in a basal teleost. BMC Evol Biol 12, 137.

Sturm A, Colliar L, Leaver MJ, Bury NR. 2011. Molecular determinants of hormone sensitivity in rainbow trout glucocorticoid receptors 1 and 2. Mol Cell Endocrinol 333, 181-189.


Bury, N.R., Sturm, A., Le Rouzic, P., Lethimonier, C., Ducouret, B., Guiguen, Y., Robinson-Rechavi, M., Laudet, V., Rafestin-Oblin, M.E., and P. Prunet. 2003. Evidence for two distinct functional glucocorticoid receptors in teleost fish.  J Mol Endocrinol 31, 141-15

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Privacy policy Accessibility Modern slavery statement Contact us

© 2017 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454