Published on December 15, 2016

Biodiversity increases the stability of ecosystem functions in fluctuating environments. Only recently, parts of the underlying processes have been uncovered. A meta-analysis of biodiversity experiments manipulating primary producer richness revealed that the increased stability in more diverse systems was driven by an increased resistance (i.e. reduced changes), rather that an increased resilience (i.e. a rapid recovery). As many ecosystem functions, comprise the joint functional contribution of the species in the system, the stability of these ecosystem functions should depend on changes in the system’s composition. Theoretical models predict that an increased number of species interactions should slow down compositional changes. By consequence, biodiversity is expected to increase both compositional and functional resistance, but these predictions have never been put to the test. In this article, Baert et al. use marine diatom microcosms to demonstrate this tight link between compositional and functional stability.

Published on November 29, 2016

On November 16th, the rector, vice-rector and dean officially opened the new building where our new lab facilities are located. The opening included a guided tour through our new lab facilities and offices in which we introduced visitors to our different research themes. We started with an introduction to ecotoxicology and the relevance of the dose-response curve, followed by a presentation on linking oceans and human health and concluded with our molecular research on genomic variation and environmental DNA. You can find some pictures of the opening below and at the ©beeldbank2016 UGent.

Published on September 27, 2016

GhenToxLab is looking for an enthusiastic young scientist to join our research team as a full-time junior assistant. We are looking for a candidate with a background and interest in at least one of the following research domains: ecotoxicology, ecology, molecular biology and genomics. In addition, an interest in teaching as well as research is essential. As academic assisting staff you assist in teaching activities and perform academic research in preparation of your doctoral dissertation.

Published on September 20, 2016

Past week, the first SETAC/iEOS joint Focused Topic Meeting on Environmental and (eco)toxicological omics and epigenetics was held in Ghent. Prof. Karel De Schamphelaere and Dr. Jana Asselman co-organized the meeting together with members from academia, government and industry. The four day meeting brought together 120 participants from across the globe. State of the art science, technology and regulatory perspectives were presented in 48 platform presentations and 34 posters. The meeting concluded with a challenging panel debate on how epigenetic effects can be addressed in regulatory frameworks and risk assessment.

Published on August 19, 2016

Over the past 25 years, hundreds of empirical studies established that there is generally a positive relationship between the functioning of an ecosystem and the number of species it contains. Ongoing global biodiversity loss by anthropogenic activities therefore poses a major threat to future ecosystem function provisioning. However, recent studies showed that environmental stress, including exposure to chemicals, can alter the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning (BEF) relationship, and hence the consequences of biodiversity loss. In this paper Baert et al. reveal for the first time the mechanisms underlying changes in BEF relationships by environmental stress. By using a simple community model, Baert et al. demonstrate that changes in the BEF relationship in a marine microalgal microcosm experiment could be explained from species stress tolerances and the strength of per-capita species interactions.

Published on August 16, 2016

Snails are important organisms in freshwater ecosystems, but they can be very sensitive to pollution with certain chemical substances. Our laboratory participated in the development of an internationally accepted chemicals toxicity test with a pond snail. This toxicity test can help to set more appropriate water quality criteria for chemicals.

Published on July 5, 2016

The laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Environmental Toxicology Unit - GhEnToxLab - is looking for a Full time Scientific Researcher (1-year position). This vacancy is part of the much larger ESFRI-LIFEWATCH project. By means of an interdisciplinary approach combining the research fields of ecotoxicology, ecology and marine biology, we aim to determine the effects of various environmental stressors on marine biodiversity in the Belgian Part of the North Sea. The main tools for this study are a Zooplankton Scanner (ZooScan) and a Video Plankton Recorder (VPR), which provide automated species identification and generate large species abundance datasets for marine systems. The challenge is to link these two data generation systems to data analysis, visualisation and modelling tools in an automated manner. The ultimate goal of all this is to provide the Flemish Marine Observatory with a fast and user-friendly platform for marine biodiversity data analysis and visualisation. Motivated scientists can apply until August 31st 2016.

Published on June 9, 2016

For years, GhEnToxLab has had a fascinating collaboration with UGhent’s Atomic and Mass Spectrometry group (A&MS), which has lead to multiple joint papers. Now, the A&MS group - led by Prof. Dr. Frank Vanhaecke – is developing another radically innovative tool to quantify the elemental composition of single cells. Using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS), the accumulation of Cu in a metal exposed marine dinoflagellate, Scrippsiella trochoidea, was measured. In this way, the mean Cu concentration in the cells was determined across different exposure levels, and the accuracy, efficiency and ability for high through-put of this promising technique was established.

Published on May 19, 2016

Next week, 8 GhEnToxLab members will be presenting their research at the 26th SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Nantes, France from 22-26 May 2016. There we will highlight our research in a total of 3 platforms and 8 posters. To keep track of us during the conference, a comprehensive list of our activities is provided.

Published on May 12, 2016

Our research on microplastic pollution has over the past years attracted considerable media attention. Recently there has been increased interest in this issue from politicians who urge the Flemish/Belgian governments to develop action plans to prevent plastic pollution in our seas and waterways. A few days ago, the mayors of the Belgium coastal towns started up a campaign to address beach pollution. The research which attracted media attention this time was the low efficiency (to retain microplastics) of waste water treatment plants in Flanders and the contribution of the river Scheldt to the marine microplastic pollution issue.

Reporters of various national radio and TV stations and for the newspaper the Standaard (link) visited our lab and talked to Prof. Janssen to get the full story of recent research findings.