Environmental Omics

Environmental omics refers to the application of high throughput molecular technologies in environmental sciences. GhEnToxLab is primarily interested in using molecular technologies to better understand the molecular mechanisms of stress responses in aquatic ecosystems as well-characterized mechanisms of stress response can significantly improve environmental risk assessment. GhEnToxLab has experience with both microarray and sequencing technologies at DNA and RNA level and has developed targeted pipelines for data processing and analysis. Our current research has focused on understanding stress response patterns in freshwater and marine invertebrates under climate change conditions, including multiple stress context. In addition, we are also interested in understanding how genomic variation may contribute to variation in sensitivity and tolerance of organisms to environmental stress.

Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes not encoded by DNA sequences. These heritable changes are mediated through other factors such as DNA methylation or histone modifications. Epigenetic effects are generally described as interactions between the environment and the genome and can persist for many generations, long after the initial exposure. Epigenetic factors are known to play a role in many human diseases such as cancer and obesity. By using ecotoxicological model organisms such as Daphnia, GhEnToxLab studies the epigenetic effects of environmental changes, including chemical pollutants, across multiple generations. Such studies will improve our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms and how they interact with environmental pollutants to result in potential adverse effects for the exposed organism. 

Current researchers
Jana Asselman, Ilias Semmouri

Past researchers
Dieter De Coninck

PhD theses
Asselman, J. (2014). Transcriptomic profiles and fitness of Daphnia exposed to cyanobacteria and interactions with insecticides. Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent, Belgium.

De Coninck, D. (2013). Consequences of present and historic cadmium pollution for the response of Daphnia sp. to cyanobacterial stress: an ecological genomics perspective. Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent, Belgium.

Vandegehuchte, Michiel. (2010). Epigenetics and transgenerational effects of toxic stress in the water flea Daphnia magna. Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent, Belgium.

Recent publications

Asselman, J., Semmouri, I., et al. (2019). Genome-wide stress responses to copper and arsenic in a field population of Daphnia. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY.

Semmouri, I., et al. (2019). The transcriptome of the marine calanoid copepod Temora longicornis under heat stress and recovery. MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, 143, 10–23.

Asselman, J. et al. (2016). Gene body methylation patterns in Daphnia are associated with gene family size. GENOME BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, 8(4), 1185–1196.

How to live in a mosaic of stressors – an ecological genomics approach on the water flea Daphnia (STRESSFLEA)