Environmental Toxicology

The Environmental Toxicology group studies and assesses the bioavailability and toxicity of existing and emerging contaminants and their mixtures. To this end, the group applies an array of lab toxicity tests (i.e. transgenic yeast, cell lines, zebrafish embryos and Daphnia magna models), and field assays conducted with feral fish and invertebrates from both marine and freshwater environments. Effects are assessed across different biological levels using transcriptomic, lipidomics, metabolomics, morphogenetic and specific cell response, including effects on whole organism and population.

Some of the key achievements of the group involve the use of biomarkers and sentinel species to biomonitor contamination in marine and freshwater systems, the first evidence of endocrine disruption in fish (estrogenic effects in fish) and aquatic invertebrates (imposex in gastropods), the application of -omic technologies to monitor effects and mode of action (MoA) on model species, the use of video-tracking technologies to assess neurobehavioral changes in model species, the determination of the ‘obesogenic’ effect of contaminants in fish, fish cell lines and invertebrates and the development of animal-free bioassays for endocrine disruption and related toxic effects.

  • Study the mechanisms of action of toxicants altering growth, reproduction, energetic metabolism, phototactic behavior in Daphnia magna using omic and functional assays.
  • Developing and use of cost-effective toxicity assays to identify toxic compounds in complex mixtures in the field
  • Elucidation of the molecular bases of the neurotoxic effects caused by some environmental pollutants and drugs using zebrafish as vertebrate model.
  • Gene expression in animal species of environmental interest
  • Cell death mechanisms
  • Identification of new biomarkers from transcriptomics and metabolomics analysis
  • Development of tissue and cell based bioassays for the detection endocrine disruption and related toxic effects
  • Lipidomic tools to monitor effects of contaminants and unravel toxicity pathways in model species

 

Research Facilities:

  • Four fully equipped labs to conduct biochemistry, molecular and analytical chemistry work.
  • Zebra fish housing facility
  • CT room to culture Daphnia magna and algae
  • Behavioural facility room
  • Microscopy facility room…
  • Histology facility room
  • Spectrofluorimeter microplate readers
  • Respirometry
  • Spectrometry
  • Genomics service equipped with real time PCR instruments (LC480, Roche), PCR termocycler (Biorad), Nanodrop Spectrophotometer, Bioanalyzer (Agilent technologies) and Gel Logic 200 Imaging System (Kodak)
  • Cell culture facility

 

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