Bioindicators and Biomarkers

  • Alejandra Hernández-Ceruelos Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo
  • Patricia Vázquez-Alvarado Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo
  • Nadia Pelallo-Martínez Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo
  • Sergio Muñoz-Juárez Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo
Keywords: Bioindicator, Biomarker, Biomonitors, Ecological Health, Pathology prognosis.


The health of an ecosystem can be examined through the use of bioindicators (BI), while the health of a human being can be determined using some molecules such as biomarkers (BM). BI are complete organisms or part of them that can be measured to detect changes in the environment, the presence of pollution and its effect on the ecosystem, as well as the observation of the progress of environmental clean-up. On the other hand, specific kinds of BI are the BM, which are biomolecules, secondary metabolites or measurable parameters used in medical research and practice to provide an insight into the mechanics and course of a disease. In general BM are classified into three groups: exposure, effects or susceptibility, and their role depends on the sensitivity, specificity, reliability and reproducibility of the methods used in the determination of the target molecule selected to be an specific BM, and it has to be validated under the development of guidelines, supported with good laboratory practice, epidemiological studies and clinical trials. BM can be used to detect subclinical stages, to become a diagnostic tool, to observe the efficacy of the treatment or monitoring the different stages on the development of the pathology.


Download data is not yet available.


1 Burger, J., A model for selecting bioindicators to monitor radionuclide concentrations using Amchitka Island in the Aleutians as a case study. Environ. Res. 2007; 105: 316-323.

2 Nkwoji JA, Igbo JK, Adeleye AO, Obienu JA and Tony-Obiagwu MJ. Implications of bioindicators in ecological health: study ofa coastal lagoon, Lagos, Nigeria. Agric. Biol. J. N. Am. 2010; 1: 683-689.

3 Li L, Zheng B and Liu L. Biomonitoring and bioindicators used for river ecosystems: definitions, approaches and trends. International Society for Environmental Information Sciences 2010 Annual Conference (ISEIS).ProcediaEnvironm. Sci.2010; 2: 1510–1524.

4 Markert B, Wappelhorst O, Weckert V, Herpin U, Siewers U and Friese K. The use of bioindicators for monitoring the heavy-metal status of the environment. J. Radioanal. Nuc.Chem. 1999; 240: 425-429.

5 Zurayk R, Sukkariyah B and Baalbaki R. Common hydrophytes as bioindicators of nickel, chromium and cadmium pollution. Water Air Soil Pollut.2001; 127:373–388.

6 Aksoy A and Demirezen D. Fraxinus excelsior as a biomonitor of heavy metal pollution. Polish. J. Environmen. Studies 2006;15: 27-33.

7 Wittig R. General aspects of biomonitoring heavy metals by plants, in B.PlantsasBiomonitors, Markert (ed.), VCH Publishers, 1993: Inc., New York, pp. 3–27.

8 De França E, De Nadai, Bacchi M and Saiki M. Native Trees as Biomonitors of Chemical Elements in the Biodiversity Conservation of the Atlantic Forest.J. Atmos. Chem. 2004; 49:579–592.

9 Garty J. Biomonitoring atmospheric heavy metals with lichens: Theory and application. Crit. Rev. Pl. Sci. 2001; 20: 309–371.

10 Bajpai R, Upreti DK, Dwivedi SK and Nayaka S. Lichen as quantitative biomonitors of atmospheric heavymetals deposition in Central India. J. Atmos. Chem. 2009; 63: 235–246.

11 Godinho RM, Wolterbeek HT, Verburg T and Freitas MC. Bioaccumulation behavior of lichenFlavoparmeliacaperata in relation to total deposition at a polluted location in Portugal. Env.Poll.2008; 151: 318–325.

12 Conti ME and Cecchetti G. Biological monitoring: lichens as bioindicators of air pollution assessment- areview. Env.Poll.2001; 114: 471–492.

13 Shukla V and Upreti DK. Heavy metal accumulation in Phaeophysciahispidula en route to Badrinath,Uttaranchal, India. Env.Monit.Ass.2007; 131: 365–369.

14 Rossini SO,andRautio P. Could Ornamental Plants Serve as Passive Biomonitors in Urban Areas? J. Atmos. Chem.2004; 49: 137–148.

15 Ptolemy AS and Rifai N. What is a biomarker? Research investments and lack of clinicalintegration necessitate a review of biomarker terminology andvalidation schema. Scand. J. Clin. Laborat. Invest.2010; 70: 6–14.

16 Majkić-SinghN. What is a biomarker? from its discovery to clinical application. J. Med. Biochem. 2011; 30: 186 –192.

17 Kinja K, Gupta N.Areview on ‘biomarkers’ as diagnostic tool. Inter. J. Pharmac. Sci. Rev. Res.2011; 7: 54-58.

18 Biomarkers Definition Working Group. Biomarkers and surrogate end-point: preferred definitions and conceptual frame work. Clin.Pharmacol.Ther.2001; 69: 89–95.

19 Bossuyt PM. Defining biomarker performance and clinical validity. J. Med. Biochem. 2011; 30: 193-200.

20 Gil H. El papel de los biomarcadores en toxicología humana. Rev. Toxicología 2000; 17: 19-26.

21 Ransohoff DF. How to improve reliability and efficiency of research about molecular markers: roles of phases guidelines, and study design. J. Clin. Epidemiolog 2007;60: 1205–19.

22 Ryan PB, Burke TA, Hubal EA, Cura JJ and Mc.Kone TE. Using biomakers to inform cumulative risk assessment. Environ. Health Perspec.2007; 115: 833-840.

23 Bernard A and Lauwerys R. Present status and trends in biological monitoring of exposure to industrial chemicals. J. Occup. Med. 1986; 28: 559- 563.

24 Merikangas K. Genetic epidemiology: bringing genetics to the population-the NAPE Lecture 2001.Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 2002; 105: 3–13.

25 Christenson, R., Biomarkers of Acute Coronary Syndrome and Heart Failure. National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry, Laboratory Medicine Practice Guidelines.Editor (©) 2007. Available online at

26 Pepe MS, Thompson ML. Combining diagnostic test results to increase accuracy. Biostatistics 2000; 1: 123–140.

27 Thompson ML and Zucchini W. On the statistical analysis of ROC curves.Stat. Med. 1989; 8:1277–1290.
How to Cite
Hernández-Ceruelos, A., Vázquez-Alvarado, P., Pelallo-Martínez, N., & Muñoz-Juárez, S. (2013). Bioindicators and Biomarkers. Mexican Journal of Medical Research ICSA, 1(2).