This overview examines the utility of mixed-function oxygenase (MFO) enzymes as a bioeffects monitor for wildlife (amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) in view of their widespread use as indicators of contaminant exposure in aquatic invertebrates and fish. Phylogenetic trends in MFO activity, toxicological implications of induction and the relationship between contaminant exposure and MFO activity are discussed. Field studies using avian embryos and hatchlings suggest that MFO induction has utility for documenting contaminant exposure; however, findings in adult birds and mammals are equivocal. Age, sex and season are sources of variation that require consideration when undertaking field trials. Further understanding of MFO inducibility among species and application of recently developed analytical techniques including quantification of specific cytochrome P-450 isozymes are warranted.
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Use of mixed-function oxygenases to monitor contaminant exposure in wildlife