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Studying the combined effect of microplastics, pesticides and global warming on the sea urchin: a multidisciplinary approach to protect marine ecosystems

Project description

Synergistic effects of microplastics and chemicals on marine ecosystems

Urgent actions are required to address human-induced damage to marine ecosystems. The EU-funded App-Marie project will study the synergistic effects of microplastics (MPs) and chemical chlorpyrifos (CPFs) in different climate change scenarios using sea urchin embryos. It will combine molecular and biochemical techniques with bioassays to evaluate the impact of MPs and CPFs at molecular, individual and population levels. Designing a standard protocol for implementing bioassays, App-Marie will simultaneously test various toxicants and stressors, and develop apps to analyse multifactorial data and predict their impact in the different layers of organisation. The project will also create a framework for researchers, companies and governments to analyse and share their data.


Urgent actions are needed to recover marine ecosystems from damage caused by human activities. The global aim of App-Marie is to study the joint effects of microplastics (MPs) and the chemical chlorpyrifos (CPF), two of the main stressors in our oceans, in different scenarios of climate change, using embryos of the sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus). This will be achieved by combining molecular and biochemical techniques together with bioassays that will allow to assess their impact at a molecular, individual and population levels. We also aim to develop a standard protocol for performing bioassays to simultaneously test several toxics/stressors and apps able to analyse multifactorial data obtained and to predict their impact at the different levels of organization. The project will be carried out by Dr Bertucci in a highly recognized institution, Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), under the supervision of Dr Bellas. Additionally, two international companies with great experience in the fields of energy and petrochemistry (Shell) and plastics (AIMPLAS) will act as collaborators providing their guidance to ensure the deliverables of the project meet the requirements to be used by industries. Dr Bellas is an international leader in marine contamination and MP pollution, ensuring an outstanding training environment for the ER. On the other hand, the deep background in comparative endocrinology and molecular biology of the ER will ensure the two-way transfer of knowledge. While completing the project, the ER will acquire diverse state-of-the-art skills and interact with international industries, expanding his scientific and personal horizons to become an independent researcher. All resources arising from App-Marie (protocols, apps) will be used to create a research framework of special interest for researchers/companies/governments to analyse and share their own data, ultimately helping decision making towards the best Approach to Protect the Marine Ecosystems.


Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48
28006 Madrid

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Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 172 932,48