In particular, there is little use of so-called biomarkers, early warning signs at a molecular and cell level. As a part of the joint European BONUS research programme, methods of measuring and observing the biological effects of harmful substances are now being developed.
This project led by Finnish researchers is also aiming to promote the introduction of such methods into the monitoring programmes and assessments of the state of the Baltic Sea.
“The introduction of new methods significantly advances the observation of the environmental load caused by human activity and the understanding of its effects on the eco-system of the Baltic Sea,” says the coordinator of the project, Kari K. Lehtonen, Senior Scientist at the Marine Centre of the Finnish Environment Centre. Sixteen research institutes from all the Baltic Sea countries are participating in the study.
The research is using bio-marker methods to study the effects of harmful substances on the fish, shellfish and crustacean species in the different parts of the Baltic Sea maritime region. Another research focus is how the changes at molecular and cell level caused by chemicals appear at other biological levels, such as in human health and reproduction and in the population size and structure of different species. “The idea is to develop for the different areas of the Baltic Sea a multi-level range of methods for observing and describing environmental stress caused by harmful substances. In these methods, bio-markers in particular will act as sensitive diagnostic tools,” says Lehtonen.
Based on the project results and existing research material, recommendations and guidelines will be prepared for a new strategy concerning the uniform chemical-biological monitoring of harmful substances. Methods aimed at the assessment of the state of health of the marine eco-system will also be developed. In addition to the levels and effects of harmful substances, these methods will also take into account other variables such as biodiversity and the structures of biotic communities.
Research funding organisations from the nine Baltic Sea nations are behind the BONUS programme, which was launched at the beginning of this year. The research is also being funded by the EU Commission. The Finnish funding organisation is the Academy of Finland. At the first stage of the research programme, decisions were made to fund 16 research projects with a total of 22 million euros, with more than 100 research institutes and universities from the Baltic Sea countries taking part. Finland is coordinating four of these projects. Total project funding will be approximately 60 million euros between 2010 and 2016.
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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