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Biological trace metal stress indicators for the assessment of freshwater ecosytems


The overall objective of this project is to study the response of phytoplankton to metal species, and develop a further understanding of the relationship between trace metal speciation and biouptake processes and ensuing toxicity, including production of intracellular trace metal stress indicators (phytochelatins) and extracellular ligands released (total uronic acid and thiols) and combined effects in metal mixtures.The specific objectives of the project are: To study the relationship between metal specia tion, bioavailability and intracellular phytochelatin production in laboratory incubations using single element additions and mixtures of metals (A) and in freshwater phytoplankton through field studies in contrasting freshwater systems. To investigate the importance of phytochelatins for the acclimatisation of freshwater algae to elevated metal exposure and the involvement of phytochelatins in the interspecies differences between phytoplankton to metal stress (C). To study the relationship between trace me tal species concentrations and production of specific exudates (thiols and uronic acid) by freshwater microorganisms in laboratory and field studies (D).To investigate the usefulness of intracellular phytochelatins (E) and of trace metal complexing extrace llular ligands (F) in freshwater systems as a trace metal stress indicators tool for the WFD. Development of non-empirical definitions and links for chemical status and ecological status of freshwater ecosystems incorporates a range of different practical and theoretical concepts and requires multidisciplinary scientific expertise. The proposed work will provide sophisticated trace metal stress indicators to the WFD for water quality assessment. The project will provide a non-empirical link between metal sp eciation and biological effects.

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