Published on July 3, 2015

Over the past years, GhEnToxLab has developed an active and fascinating collaboration with the UGhent’s X-ray Microspectroscopy and Imaging Group (XMI). This lab, led by Prof. dr. Laszlo Vincze, is specialized in the development of synchotron radiation-based tools for micro X-ray imaging, absorption spectroscopy and fluorescence analysis. Among other techniques, they are currently developing a method that uses lasers to trap and manipulate single celled organisms in their native environment. The optically trapped organism can then be subjected to micro X-ray fluorescence imaging, providing us with a radically new tool to map the subcellular elemental composition of these cells.

Published on July 1, 2015

Through global shipping and trade, mankind has inadvertently spread marine organisms to such an extent that many are now considered cosmopolitan. Further aggravated by changes in the foodweb structure (overfishing), eutrophication and climate change, this has led to a substantial increase in the occurrence of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Next to the large potential for environmental damage, these recurring events have become a global public health concern as many species produce potent marine toxins that may lead to shellfish poisoning. To ensure food safety, the mouse bioassay has long been used to screen seafood for the presence of these toxins. Due to ethical concerns, however, this test is now being replaced by alternative chemical analyses.

Published on June 15, 2015

javascript:void(0)Since 2009, the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) has coordinated and facilitated the scientific diving activities of Belgian scientists. Every year, a BELSPO working group organizes a ten-day course to train and prepare Belgian marine scientists. GhEnToxLab member, Maarten De Rijcke, has been selected as one out of only eight divers to be trained as a Belgian Scientific Diver this year. Congrats Maarten, enjoy and keep it safe!

Published on May 29, 2015

Research collaborator and former postdoc visiting researcher Takashi Nagai is selected as a new member of the Scientific Advisory Committee regarding environmental risk assessments. The committee consists of 21 scientists and conducts scientific considerations on official environmental risk assessments of industrial chemicals. It falls under the Japanse Chemical Substances Control Act which resembles the REACH regulation of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Published on May 26, 2015

Microplastic pollution is increasingly being considered as a threat to the marine environment in general and to small marine invertebrates at the base of the food chain in particlular As microplastics occur both in the seawater and in the sediment, we investigated the potential for microplastic ingestion in two organisms inhabiting these environments: the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) and the lugworm (Arenicola marina). As a follow-up to our previously published research, the microplastic load in field-collected organisms - i.e. exposed to ambient microplastic concentrations - was assessed.  In all collected specimens, we detected low concentrations of microplastics in both species, although the sediment dwelling lugworms contained somewhat higher concentrations. Subsequently, potential impacts of microplastic uptake of these species were assessed. Although some responses were measured, we detected no significant adverse effects of microplastic ingestion.

Published on May 18, 2015

Recently Eng. Gert Everaert successfully defended his PhD and received the title of Doctor of Applied Biological Sciences. His research dealt with the potential risk of organic micropollutants on marine phytoplankton in the greater North Sea: integration of modelling and experimental approaches. The full version of his thesis can be found at Ghent University Academic Bibliography (link). His promotors, Prof. dr. Colin Janssen and Prof. dr. ir. Peter Goethals (aquatic ecology), and the whole GhEnToxLab staff wish him the best in his further (academic) career. Congratulations Gert!

Published on May 12, 2015

In a recent research paper published in Chemosphere, Gert Everaert and co-workers quantified the relative contribution of persistent organic pollutants to marine phytoplankton biomass dynamics. To do so, they used concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to infer potential POP-induced effects on marine primary production in the Kattegat and the North Sea. They modelled phytoplankton dynamics using four classical drivers (light and nutrient availability, temperature and zooplankton grazing) and tested whether extending this model with a POP-induced phytoplankton growth limitation term improved predictions of the observed chlorophyll a concentrations.

Published on May 6, 2015

Our latest microplastic research was included in the Science for Environment Policy news alert published by the European Commission’s DG Environment. This news alert summarises scientific studies carefully selected for quality and European policy relevance. Our research selected for publication in the news alert was the recently published paper on microplastics in two key marine species: mussels and lugworms.

Published on May 4, 2015

Yesterday, prof. Karel De Schamphelaere presented the launch of the SETAC Europe Certification of Environmental Risk Assessors at the opening ceremony of the SETAC Conference in Barcelona. This program aims to harmonize and further strengthen science in environmental risk assessment by continuous education, training and by certification of risk assessors who show to have a broad multidisciplinary competence portfolio.

Published on April 29, 2015

In the European Union and the United States, two differently structured bioavailability models are used in risk assessments of copper. These models, the biotic ligand models (BLM), are valuable tools based on the concept that toxicity depends on the concentration of metal bound to a biological binding site; the biotic ligand. The application of these different BLMs implies that a discrepancy exists between regulation of aquatic toxicity in the U.S. and the E.U. In this study we evaluated the capacity of these BLMs to predict chronic copper toxicity to two water flea clones (Daphnia magna). We found that one BLM performed best with one clone, while the other BLM performed best with the other clone.