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.

Published on May 4, 2016

The job student will collaborate in a recent marine and molecular project comprising several research disciples like sampling campaigns and morphological and microscopic research of marine organisms. The main focus is on molecular research including DNA and RNA extractions, quantitative PCR and next generation sequencing.

De jobstudent zal meewerken binnen een recent opgestart marien en moleculair onderzoeksproject van de onderzoeksgroep milieutoxicologie.  Het project omvat verscheidene onderzoeksdisciplines: staalname campagnes, morfologisch en microscopisch onderzoek van marine organismen met een focus moleculair onderzoek waaronder DNA en RNA extracties, kwantitatieve PCR alsook next generation sequencing.

Published on April 21, 2016

Environmental factors including chemicals can induce changes that can affect the offspring of exposed animals for multiple generations. These effects are referred to as transgenerational effects and are often the consequence of changes in DNA methylation. Within this paper, we have focused on understanding the role of DNA methylation by studying the patterns of methylation at the genomic level in two Daphnia species. We observed that these patterns are not random but are associated with the size of the gene family. This suggest that DNA methylation may help regulate the function and size of gene families which in turn may play an important role in stress response.

Published on April 14, 2016

Many congratulations to Dr. Gert Everaert of GhEnToxLab who is awarded the prize for the SETAC Europe Best Paper in the category of Chemical Analysis and Environmental Monitoring for his paper: "Multidecadal Field Data Support Intimate Links between Phytoplankton Dynamics and PCB Concentrations in Marine Sediments and Biota”. In this publication, Gert and his co-authors performed meta-analyses on existing monitoring data and found evidence that the biological pump plays a key role in the partitioning of PCBs between different marine compartments in the North Sea. One of the main strengths of the research is the uniquely large spatiotemporal scale on which the conclusions are based. The award ceremony will be held at the opening ceremony of the SETAC Europe Conference in Nantes on May 22nd 2016.

Published on April 5, 2016

The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and the UK Environmental Omics Synthesis Centre (iEOS) are organizing a joint focused topic meeting on environmental and (eco)toxicological omics and epigenetics. The conference will take place in Ghent, 12-15 September, 2016 and GhEnToxLab members Prof. Dr. Eng. Karel De Schamphelaere and Dr. Eng. Jana Asselman are members of the organizing committee. The application of ‘omics' in environmental and (eco)toxicological science is a fast moving area of research, with new understanding of the epigenome bringing an important new perspective to understanding of species response to environmental perturbations. The symposium will consist of platform and poster presentations from selected abstracts as well as opening lectures from world-renowned invited speakers. Abstracts for platform and poster presentations can be submitted (link) until 15 June 2016.

Published on March 15, 2016

Harmful algal blooms, produced by cyanobacteria, not only impact water quality, but they also have the potential to produce toxins that can harm humans, pets and wildlife. The blooms are caused by a combination of factors, one major factor being warmer temperatures. 2015 was the warmest year on record. Before that it was 2014. The long-term trend of rising temperatures is likely to further promote the global expansion of cyanobacteria. As copper is commonly used as an algaecide to eradicate cyanobacterial blooms, we investigated the combined effects of copper and the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa and how these were affected by temperature and food concentration. Our study shows that the interactive effects between copper and harmful algae blooms are not overly dependent on temperature and food concentration. Nevertheless the present study warns against the use of copper-based algaecides and suggests that environmental risk assessment of copper should consider specific situations where harmful M. aeruginosa blooms can co-occur.

Published on February 18, 2016

Mostly, metal contamination comes as a mixture of different metals. These multi-component mixtures can produce significant mixture effects. In this study, metal mixture toxicity on barley root elongation was investigated. Mixture effects of four metals (Cu, Cd, Ni and Zn) were investigated when each metal was present in the mixture at a low effect concentration, i.e. individually only causing a small effect. Two commonly used ‘reference’ models (concentration addition and independent action) were used to test if it is possible to predict toxicity in these mixtures. In this study, it was shown that the toxicity of a mixture of metals was almost always larger than the effect of the most toxic metal in that mixture. In addition, it was found that a mixture of four metals, each causing individually < 10% effect, produced mixture effects up to 50%. This highlights the need to incorporate mixture toxicity in risk-assessment frameworks.