News

Published on August 27, 2012

Biodiversity of freshwater diatom communities during 1000 years of metal mining, land use, and climate change in Central Sweden

Frederik De Laender and colleagues subjected a unique set of high-quality paleoecological data to statistical modeling to examine if the biological richness and evenness of freshwater diatom communities in the Falun area, a historical copper (Cu) mining region in central Sweden, was negatively influenced by 1000 years of metal exposure. Contrary to ecotoxicological predictions, we found no negative relation between biodiversity and the sedimentary concentrations of eight metals. Strikingly, our analysis listed metals (Co, Fe, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) or the fractional land cover of cultivated crops, meadow, and herbs indicating land disturbance as potentially promoting biodiversity. However, correlation between metal- and land-cover trends prevented concluding which of these two covariate types positively affected biodiversity. Because historical aqueous metal concentrations—inferred from solid-water partitioning—approached experimental toxicity thresholds for freshwater algae, positive effects of metal mining on biodiversity are unlikely. Instead, the positive relationship between biodiversity and historical land-cover change can be explained by the increasing proportion of opportunistic species when anthropogenic disturbance intensifies. Our analysis illustrates that focusing on the direct toxic effects of metals alone may yield inaccurate environmental assessments on time scales relevant for biodiversity conservation.

Full reference (link)

De Laender F, Verschuren D, Bindler R, Thas O, Janssen CR. 2012. Biodiversity of Freshwater Diatom Communities during 1000 Years of Metal Mining, Land Use,

Published on August 25, 2012

Micro-plastics in mussel tissue

Researchers of the Laboratory of Envrionmental Toxicology of Ghent Universitmosselsy found plastic micro particles in mussel tissue. Mussels from the North Sea contain on average one plastic particle per gram of tissue. They take it up from the seawater, which is highly polluted by plastics from cosmetics, synthetic clothing and packaging. "Thus, per serving of  mussels, which contains about three hundred grams of mussel meat, you get three hundred pieces of plastic inside your body

Published on August 23, 2012

Ghent University signs cooperation agreements with the Flanders Marine Institute

image marineugentOn August 23, 2012 the Ghent University signed a unique cooperation agreement with the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).24 research units from five faculties, united in the cluster 'Marine@UGent' will collaborte intensively with the VLIZ  on marine and coastal research topics. A warehouse at the 'Marine Station Oostende' (Oosteroever) will be arranged for the Ghent University researchers. It is expected that this and all other actions framed by this agreement will lead to a lot of new research findings.

"This multidisciplinarity and the desire to cooperate more actively on sea and coastal-related themes make this a unique consortium. By joining forces with the VLIZ we can also tie in more closely with the central supporting role and tasks that the Flanders Marine Institute plays" says Professor Colin Janssen, Chairman of Marine@UGent and also Vice-President of the VLIZ and head of the Lab of Environmental Toxicology at Ghent University.

Published on August 20, 2012

Identification of pathways, gene networks, paralogous gene families in Daphnia pulex responing to exposure to the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa

Jana Asselman and colleagues describe in their most recent paper the implementation of a whole-genome expression microarray to identify pathways, gene networks, and paralogous gene families responsive to the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis in the waterflea Daphnia pulex. They identified four pathways/gene networks and eight paralogous gene families affected by Microcystis. Differential regulation of the ribosome, including three paralogous gene families encoding 40S, 60S, and mitochondrial ribosomal proteins, suggests an impact of Microcystis on protein synthesis of D. pulex. In addition, differential regulation of the oxidative phosphorylation pathway (including the NADH:ubquinone oxidoreductase gene family) and the trypsin paralogous gene family (a major component of the digestive system in D. pulex) could explain why fitness is reduced based on energy budget considerations.

Full reference (link)

Asselman J, De Coninck D, Glaholt S, Colbourne JK, Janssen CR, Shaw JR, De Schamphelaere KAC. 2012. Identification of Pathways, Gene Networks, and Paralogous Gene Families in Daphnia pulex Responding to Exposure to the Toxic Cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46(15) : 8448–8457.

Published on June 1, 2012

Poster award at SETAC 6th World Congress

We recently successfully presented our research at the SETAC Europe 22nd Annual Meeting / 6th SETAC World Congress in Berlin from 20-24 May 2012 in 8 platform and 14 poster presentations. Moreover, Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe earned the Tom Feijtel best poster award with her poster entitled "Selective uptake of microplastics by a marine bivalve (Mytilus edulis)" [download poster]. Congratulations, Lisbeth!

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