Research in the Spotlight

Microplastics in the news: radio interviews with Prof. Janssen


Due to the rapidly growing scientific and public awareness on the occurrence and adverse effects of microplastics, news on microplastic usage and research is increasingly being picked up by the mainstream media. Just last month, it was shown that the polar ice caps harbour vast amounts of microplastics which could be released through global warming. A few weeks later, the state of Illinois passed legislation which will ban the manufacture of microbead containing products by 2018. As a leading authority on microplastic research in Belgium, Prof. Dr. Colin Janssen of the GhEnToxLab was asked to elaborate on these news items by the national radio channel Radio 1. You can listen again to these interviews on the website of Radio 1 (Dutch spoken).


Illinois bill interview

Polar ice interview

(courtesy of VRT - Radio 1)

Francqui Foundation Fellowship for GhEnToxLab member Dr. Jana Asselman

BAEF logoDr. Jana Asselman (GhEnToxLab) received a Francqui Foundation Fellowship of the Belgian American Educational Foundation for the year 2014-2015 (BAEF). The fellowship is sponsored by the Francqui Foundation and is only awarded after a selection process based on the scientific excellence of the candidate and the research proposal. This year, nine researchers were awarded a Francqui Foundation Fellowship. This fellowship will allow Dr. Asselman to spend a year at Notre Dame University as a postdoctoral researcher (USA, and conduct innovative genomics research at the lab of Prof. Dr. Michael Pfrender. The project will focus on the genetic effects of metals to freshwater organisms exposed to salinity stress. Furthermore, this project will also provide a unique opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between GhEnToxLab and the lab of Prof. Pfrender. Congratulations, Jana!

In Knack: Drs. Lisbeth Van Cauwenberghe comments on microplastic use in cosmetics.

lisbethLisbeth Van Cauwenberghe is currently conducting research on microplastics in a marine environment at GhEnToxLab. Knack (a weekly flemish newsmagazine) interviewed our colleague on the possible environmental and health issues of these microplastics.

Read the full article (Dutch) at:


GhEnToxLab researcher Dr. Dieter De Coninck wins SETAC Europe Best Publication Award

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Every year SETAC Europe organises the Best Publication Award in the categories risk assessment, chemical analysis and ecotoxicology. This year the SETAC Europe Best Publication Award for risk assessment went to Dr. Dieter De Coninck, for his paper “An approach to assess the regulatory relevance of microevolutionary effects in ecological risk assessment of chemicals: a case study with cadmium”.

GhEnToxLab at SETAC Europe

setaclogo2 thumb medium50 75Another year, another SETAC conference. This month, our GhEnToxLab members will be presenting their research at the 24th SETAC Europe Annual Meeting in Basel, Switzerland from 11-15 May 2014. There we will highlight our research in a total of six platforms, one poster corner and nine posters. To keep track of us during the conference, a comprehensive list of our activities is provided below. 

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).

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!

Best poster awards at the ESF-funded conference on Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics

eefg2013 jana jenny2At the "Frontiers in Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics" conference in Noordwijkerhout, the Netherlands, from 26-30 May 2013, two young scientists of our lab were awarded poster prizes for their presentations. Jana Asselman presented a poster entitled "Unraveling mode of actions and toxin profiles with high throughput microarrays: a case study in Daphnia exposed to different cyanobacterial stressors." and was awarded the first prize as well as €1000. Jennifer Hochmuth won the second prize as well as €600 with her poster entitled "Micro-evolutionary response in a natural Daphnia magna population under Cu and Zn stress". The conference was funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and gave an overview of the most significant achievements within the ESF-EUROEEFG project. More than 100 delegates attended the conference and about 40 posters were presented.

Best oral presentation award on the 18th national symposium on applied biological sciences

awardA few days ago, the 18th National Symposium on Applied Biological Sciences took place in Ghent at which we were present with four oral presentations and four poster presentations. It was a successful symposium, not the least for our lab-member David Deruytter who won the award for best oral presentation in the Environmental Quality session with his talk entitled "The combined effect of DOC and salinity on the accumulation and toxicity of copper in mussel larvae". Congratulations, David!

Micro-plastics in mussel tissue

Researchers of the Laboratory of Envrionmental Toxicology of Ghent Universitmosselsy found plastic micro particles in mussel tissue. Mussels from the North Sea contain on average one plastic particle per gram of tissue. They take it up from the seawater, which is highly polluted by plastics from cosmetics, synthetic clothing and packaging. "Thus, per serving of  mussels, which contains about three hundred grams of mussel meat, you get three hundred pieces of plastic inside your body," says Professor Colin Janssen. (More information at the Ghent University website)

See also news broadcasts (Dutch): VRT news broadcast, VTM news broadcast and different newspaper websites (Dutch): De Standaard, De Morgen.