Pollution and Environmental Toxicology

PEBIOTRA - search for a greener pesticide - É. Perpete

The majority of insecticides belongs to neurotoxins having several toxicological effects on non-target living organisms, including humans. New classes of chemicals with new modes of action are therefore highly demanded such as bio-insecticides that target and disrupt biochemical functions of the insect. Trehalose (α-D-glucopyranosyl-α-D-glucopyranoside) is the main form of energy storage in the haemolymph of insects. The degradation of trehalose can be achieved by several metabolic pathways, including hydrolysis. In this case, trehalase (α-glucoside-1-glucohydrolase, EC 3.2.1.28) catalyses the irreversible hydrolysis of trehalose into two glucose molecules. The inhibition of trehalase induces hypoglycaemia in the insect and results in a considerable reduction of glucose-related metabolism and, ultimately, a dysfunction of the life-sustaining biological systems of the body. The major objective of PEBIOTRA is to establish a proof of concept of the efficacy and selectivity of the inhibitors of trehalase with regard to a major pest, the aphid. (2020-)

Improving knowledge of atmospheric methane - M. Lepère

The increase of green house and pollutant gases in Earth's atmosphere is predominantly responsible for global climate change and air quality degradation. Adequate knowledge of sources and sinks of these gases and their atmosphere feedbacks is necessary for the proper understanding and prediction of climate and air quality. Among them, methane (CH4) is an important and challenging molecule to study: although less abundant in the atmosphere than CO2, its radiative impact as a greenhouse gas is significantly larger. Since a few years, methane concentrations are increasing very fast again (after a plateau around year 2000) and our current understanding about natural and anthropogenic sources and sinks of this gas is still inadequate. The aim of the research is to exploit the synergies of different measurements to derive information on methane in the lower atmosphere, to better understand, quantify and monitor surface processes as well as sources and sinks of this gas, which is very important for climate change.
The Laboratory of Lasers and Spectroscopies (team: Muriel Lepère, Physics) has the necessary expertise in gas phase spectroscopy and experimental spectroscopy in the thermal infrared, in particular for molecules with atmospheric interest such as methane. (2019-2020)

Improving the ecological relevance of metals risk assessment - F. De Laender

Effects occurring in mesocosm food webs are complex and often difficult to understand. Pattern oriented modelling is used to predict not only one but multiple patterns in the data. (2018-2021) Read more

Effects of environmental stress on developmental plasticity of behavioural traits in the mangrove rivulus - F. Silvestre

The developmental plasticity of behavioural traits (aggressiveness and boldness) is investigated in an isogenic lineage of the self-fertilizing hermaphroditic vertebrate species, the mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus). How can environmental factors (salinity and exposure to a pollutant) during early life stages affect the methylome and the phenotype of somatic cells in adults’ brain and of germ cells of the adults’ ovotestis. (2017-2018) Read more

Implementation of transport proteins for integration in composite nanomaterials - É. Perpete & M. Lopes Rodrigues

Design of new composite nanomaterials by incorporating porins into polymers, thereby controlling the passage of solutes through an artificial film. (2016-2019)

Development of ecological archetypes and models for use in chemical risk assessment - F. De Laender & S. van den Berg

Identification of representative ecological archetypes from field data that are simple but instrumental for the detection of baseline/reference ecosystem status and different levels of pollution and habitat type in various geographical regions. Read more

Phytoplankton diversity and ecosystem functioning along gradients of grazing and toxicity - F. De Laender

Diatom communities are studied to show how biodiversity effects on compositional stability of ecosystems which in turn drives biodiversity effects on functional stability. (2015-2016) Research output

(AquaStress) Aquatic Systems under multiple Stress : a New Paradigm for Integrating Aquaculture and Ecotoxicology Research - P. Kestemont

Investigation of multiple stress in aquatic systems across multiple levels of biological organization and to verification to what extent multiple stress effects occurring at higher levels of organization can be predicted/explained based on observations of effects occurring at lower levels. (2012-2017) Read more