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Biominerals as sinks and targets of heavy metals - mechanisms of incorporation and toxicity in the sea-urchin larval skeleton


Research objectives and content
The goal of the proposed research is to investigate the incorporation and toxicity of metals in invertebrate calcium-bearing skeletons. The experimental model will be cultures of skeleton- forming cells of sea-urchin larvae. The objectives are to determine which metals are incorporated into the spicules and how these affect (1) the spicule development in general (quantitative and qualitative effects), (2) the cytology of skeleton-forming cells (cell alterations and target organelles of metals), (3) the crystallization of the spicule-forming mineral (effects on the relationships between morphology and crystallography in biotically grown spicules and on the characteristics of abiotically-grown crystals of the same composition). The studied species will be the European edible sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, a commonly used species in metal toxicity bioassays. Studied metals will be cadmium, lead, copper and zinc. Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The project should offer training in the field of toxicity assessment in the marine environment. It will offer practise in a zoological group of increasing ecotoxicological importance for which no specialist occurs in the applicant country. Acquired skills will include cell culture, metal analysis, and electron microscopies coupled with ultracytochemistry. This training should result in a PhD thesis.

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Université Libre de Bruxelles
50,avenue franklin roosevelt
1050 Bruxelles

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EU contribution
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