Published on September 16, 2013

Too much pharmaceuticals in the river Maas

According to the latest report of the RIWA, a Belgian-Dutch organisation of water companies, too much pharmaceuticals were measured at 10% of the sampling points. Since Since we tap a lot of drinking water from the river, this finding is disturbing, say water companies. Although our drinking water is still perfectly safe, this elevated concentration of pharmaceuticals may have an adverse effect on organisms in the environment, such as femalized male fish. In another research project, performed in 2010 and involving our laboratory, which focussed on pharmaceuticals in the water at the ports of the North Sea, traces of seven pharmaceuticals were dicovered for the first time.

Read the full article as displayed in De Standaard of August 27th, 2013 (Dutch).

Published on September 6, 2013

Epigenetics in an ecotoxiological context

mutation researchChildren of obese fathers are more likely to have chronic diseases in their later life. That was the conclusion of a remarkable study by Dr. Adelheid Soubry in BMC Medicine (De Standaard, 08/02/2013). She identified one of the mechanisms responsible to be DNA-methylation. DNA-methylation, among other mechanisms, are so-called epigenetic mechanisms. They can alter the DNA without actually altering the DNA code itself. These epigenetic mechanisms are also shown to be important in an ecotoxicological context. This was recently summarized by our post-doc Michiel Vandegehuchte in a review in Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis.

Published on August 30, 2013

LET - Springboard to a great career

careerLMAE's PhD-student Dieter De Coninck, who will soon finish his PhD, was selected with 29 other PhD students out of over 150 applicants to attend the BASF Days Agro. This event introduces young "top of the crop" individuals into the company of BASF as a potential employer. Indeed, a PhD can be a great asset to a career. Previous LMAE PhD-students now all work at renowned companies and organizations. Dr. Michiel Claessens works now at Dupont as regulatory ecotoxicologist. Dr. ir. Roel Evens works at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and Dr. Marlies Messiaen now works at the International Zinc Association. Current top positions of some older graduates from our laboratory include two professors (Ghent University and University of Namur), two EU officials at the European Chemicals Bureau – Helsinki and two CEOs of an environmental consultancy company (Arche), a former spin-off of our lab. Their PhD and experience at LMAE has definitely been a springboard to a great career! Dieter De Coninck will defend his PhD on September 13 (invitation)!


Published on August 28, 2013

Building bridges across research disciplines

Exciting times are coming for the Artemia Research Community. On September 2nd, the fully sequenced genome of Artemia will be presented on the Artemia Genome Workshop. Artemia is considered a model crustacean in aquaculture just as Daphnia is considered the model crustacean in freshwater. On the Artemia Genome day, LMAE will contribute to both the presentations as well as the scientific discussion. LMAE will share her knowledge and experience on the Daphnia genome to the broad Artemia research community. Hence, LMAE will strengthen its ongoing collaboration with the Laboratory of Aquaculture and continue to facilitate cross-fertilizations between these different research domains, e.g. the AquaStress project!

More information (Dutch): Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University

Published on August 22, 2013

Best oral presentation award on the 9th international conference on toxic cyanobacteria

awardLast week, the 9th international conference on toxic cyanobacteria (ICTC) took place in South-Africa. Being active in the research on toxic effects and genetic mechanisms of cyanobacteria, Jana Asselman represented our lab at the conference. And she did so successfully. For her oral presentation entitled "Unraveling mode of actions and toxin profiles with high throughput microarrays: a case study in Daphnia exposed to different cyanobacterial stressors", she was awarded the first prize for best oral presentation. Congratulations, Jana!

Published on August 6, 2013

Mini symposium ecological, evolutionary and ecotoxicological genomics

On September 13th, 2013 Prof. Karel De Schamphelaere organizes a free mini symposium on "evolutionary, ecological and ecotoxicological genomics", which will take place at the faculty of Bioscience Engineering, UGent (Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent). Three internationally renowned speakers will provide an overview of how the rapid developments of high-throughput genomics and DNA sequencing technologies help to improve our understanding of the ecology, evolution and ecotoxicology of species in a rapidly changing world and how this enables novel applications. More information can be found on the flyer. Everyone interested is cordially invited.

Published on August 5, 2013

Swimming pool in Mol (Belgium) closed due to cyanobacteria

This weekend, a swimming pool in Mol (Belgium) had to be closed due to the possible presence of blue-green algae or cyanobacteria. This occurrence shows the relevance of some of the research performed at our laboratory. Indeed, these harmful algae, which can both occur in fresh- and saltwater, can not only exercise potential adverse effects in humans, but also in different other ecological species inhabiting these waters.

Source and more information: (Dutch).

Published on August 5, 2013

Combined exposure to cyanobacteria and carbaryl results in antagonistic effects on the reproduction of Daphnia pulex
etcIn aquatic ecosystems, Daphnia are exposed to a wide variety of natural and chemical stressors that can cause interactive effects resulting in an increased impact on aquatic ecosystems. The authors therefore investigated the interactive effects of harmful cyanobacteria (cyanoHABs) with carbaryl in Daphnia pulex, because cyanobacteria have become an important concern for aquatic ecosystems. Daphnia were exposed for 21 d to 4 selected cyanobacteria (Aphanizomenon sp., Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii, Microcystis aeruginosa, and Oscillatoria sp), carbaryl, and all binary combinations of carbaryl and each individual cyanobacterium. Results were analyzed with both the independent action and the concentration addition model.

Published on June 21, 2013

Assessment of marine debris on the Belgian Continental Shelf

marinepollutionbulletinA two-year comprehensive assessment of marine litter in Belgian coastal waters was performed. Abundance, weight and composition of marine debris, including microplastics, was assessed by performing beach, sea surface and seafloor monitoring campaigns. Plastic items were the dominant type of macrodebris recorded: over 95% of debris present in the three sampled marine compartments were plastic. In general, concentrations of macrodebris were quite high. Especially the number of beached debris reached very high levels: on average 6,429 ± 6,767 items per 100m were recorded. Microplastic concentrations were determined to assess overall abundance in the different marine compartments of the Belgian Continental Shelf. In terms of weight, macrodebris still dominates the pollution of beaches, but in the water column and in the seafloor microplastics appear to be of higher importance: microplastic weight is approximately 100 times and 400 times higher, respectively, than macrodebris weight.


Published on June 19, 2013

Excellent report for our lab!

A new, independent analysis of the research performance – based on scientific output – of all Ugent faculties, departments and research groups has just been released.
Here is the bottom line: we rank among the top 5 research groups of our faculty in terms of number and impact of papers. Our papers have a significantly higher impact compared to the world average in our research field and all other criteria also indicate the excellent performance of the Environmental Toxicology group.