Published on December 20, 2017

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We are looking for a highly motivated researcher to apply for a PhD Research project: Fish population models to improve ecological risk assessment of copper and zinc

Published on December 18, 2017

In ponds, lakes and other water bodies, organisms face a multitude of environmental challenges which include chemical pollution and harmful algal blooms. To better understand and protect our water bodies, we need to be able to model and predict how organisms grow and reproduce under these environmental challenges. Here, we use gene expression patterns in combination with network methodology and statistical modelling to predict the reproduction of waterfleas after exposure to insecticides and cyanobacteria at environmentally relevant concentrations. Our developed models were able to predict reproduction of waterfleas under these different conditions. In particular, the models were able to predict the combined effect of combinations of insecticides and cyanobacteria on the reproduction of the waterfleas. These results provide a valuable mechanistic framework that consists of using gene expression data to quantify higher level effects.

Published on December 13, 2017

Freshwater biota are usually exposed to mixtures of different metals in the environment, which raises concern because risk-assessment procedures for metals are still mainly based on single-metal toxicity. Because microalgae are primary producers and therefore at the base of the food web, it is of utmost importance to understand the effects of metal mixtures on these organisms. The objective of the present study was to test if combined effects of mixtures to Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata were the same or different across natural waters showing diverse water-chemistry characteristics. This was done by performing experiments with ternary Cu–Ni–Zn mixtures in 3 natural waters and with binary Cu–Ni mixtures in 5 natural waters.

Published on November 28, 2017

To celebrate Science Day 2017 on Sunday, 26th November, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) demonstrated the variety of marine research at the Marine Station Ostend (MSO). During this year’s Science Day, our colleague Emmanuel introduced his research to the general public. Emmanuel investigates whether exposure to biogenic compounds in sea sprays has an influence on human health. 

Published on November 28, 2017






We are happy to announce that our colleague, Tina Van Regenmortel, on November 24, 2017, defended her dissertation to earn her doctoral degree! During her PhD, her research focused on estimating and predicting risks of single metals and their mixtures on individual species and on communities. Congratulations, Tina! 

Published on November 28, 2017
Little is known about the effect of metal mixtures on marine organisms, especially after exposure to environmentally realistic concentrations. This information is, however, required to evaluate the need to include mixtures in future l risk assessment procedures. We assessed the effect of copper (Cu)–Nickel (Ni) binary mixtures on Mytilus edulis larval development using a full factorial design that included environmentally relevant metal concentrations and ratios.

Published on November 9, 2017

Understanding and predicting ecosystem functioning under environmental change has become a focus in ecological research due to the impact of human activities on natural ecosystems and the services they deliver. Ecosystem functioning under stress can depend on whether the response traits driving changes in species densities also predict direct stress effects on the species’ contribution to functioning. Based on our results, we expect a disproportionate loss of functioning when traits driving species densities do not allow to maintain ecosystem functioning under stress.

Published on October 20, 2017

We are happy to announce that Sam Baelus, who performed her master dissertation at our Lab, has won the ArcelorMittal Indaver Thesis Award “Environmental Science and Technology”. This award was given for the 23rd time to outstanding Master students who wrote a thesis on an environmental topic. Sam, Master of Bio-science engineering in Environmental technology, wrote her thesis on the “Characterization of phycotoxins in sea spray aerosols". Here a new method was proposed to measure background concentration of algal toxins and other biogenic chemicals in the sea air. These compounds are considered, within the biogenics hypothesis, as the health promoting substances in sea air. We wish her all the best in her future career. Congratulations Sam!

Published on October 20, 2017

Tetracycline is a commonly used antibiotic in aquaculture, veterinary and agriculture. Due to its widespread use, tetracycline is commonly found in our environment where it can harm other organisms. Here we studied the effects of tetracycline on the waterflea daphnia. We particularly focused on studying the long-term effects of tetracycline, which consists of three generations of daphnia exposed to tetracycline (from grandparents to grandchildren) at the molecular level. We observed effects of tetracycline in all generations particularly targeted the molting related genes, which are in daphnia also responsible for growth. We also observed that when exposing daphnia to different concentrations of tetracycline specific genes called vitellogenin were affected and these genes could be linked to effects on reproduction. Our results show that the effects of chemicals to different generations and to different concentrations are very different and that these effects cannot be neglected in the environmental risk assessment of tetracycline.

Published on October 20, 2017

Metal contamination of rivers and streams generally occurs as a combination of multiple metals (also called mixtures). However, it is yet unresolved how risks of mixed metal contamination to ecosystems should be evaluated. To increase the knowledge about chronic mixture effects, the authors investigated whether metal mixture effects are dependent on the biological species, mixture composition, and metal concentration ratio. The authors evaluated the effects of quaternary Ni-Zn-Cu-Cd and ternary Ni-Zn-Cu mixtures on 48-h algal growth rate (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata) and 7-d daphnid reproduction (Ceriodaphnia dubia) using a ray design.