Research mission

The research group conducts fundamental and applied research concerning the adaptation of aquatic and terrestrial organisms to their environment and the effects of environmental contamination on the health status of organisms, populations and communities. Within this framework three lines of research can be distinguished. The first line is work concerning the bioavailability and accumulation of environmental contaminants, the second line concerns the mode of action and mechanisms of toxicity and the third line aims to relate effects at different levels of functional organisation. The research uses in vitro as well as in vivo models and focuses on molecular and cellular aspects (gene expression, protein synthesis, cellular functions) as well as organismal aspects (bioavailability, homeostasis and adaptation). The studies have different applications in environmental toxicology with special emphasis on environmental diagnostics and the development and evaluation of environmental quality criteria (molecular and cellular markers, exposure and effects models, toxicity evaluation and risk assessment). Research theme's: Bioavailability and accumulation of micro-contaminants: studies concerning the relative importance of different exposure routes and the effects of environmental conditions on the bioavailability, accumulation and toxicity of metals and other priority micro-contaminants. Development of dynamic models to predict effects under different exposure scenario's. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of toxicity: studies concerning the effects of micro-contaminant exposure and other environmental perturbations on the level of gene expression, protein synthesis and cellular functionality using in vivo and in vitro model systems. These analysis provide information on the mode of action of toxicants and how organisms deal with the resulting effects. Physiological mechanisms of adaptation and homeostasis: studies concerning the mechanisms involved in the regulation of homeostatic functions and the impact of environmental disturbances on these. Identification of sensitive functions within organisms and how differences in acclimatisation or adaptation explain differences in sensitivity and tolerance among individuals, populations and species.