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TITLE

Development and field validation of biosensor methods for the assessment of the effects of pollution and solar UV radiation on commercially and ecologically important marine invertebrates.

PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED

The main goal of this research project is to introduce novel cellular biosensor (marine invertebrate cell culture) and molecular biosensor techniques for the estimate of the health state of ecologically and/or commercially important marine invertebrates at their natural habitats (sponges and sea urchins) or held in aquaculture (bivalves). Three molecular biosensors will be developed: a) immunosensor, b) DNA affinity biosensor, and c) DNA damage biosensor. These biosensors will be used to determine and to quantify the impact of cosmic (UV-B radiation) and ecosystem (xenobiotics) factors, and their combinations on marine invertebrates (laboratory experiments and field studies). This project will contribute to a sustainable exploitation of the sea. Commercializable products (biosensor chips for environmental monitoring) will be developed and distributed throughout the world.

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES AND APPROACH

(1) Novel cell and tissue culture techniques for marine invertebrates (sponge, bivalves, and sea urchin) will be tested for their applicability as cellular biosensors in marine environmental research. (2) These cellular biosensors will be applied for studying the vulnerability and health status of commercially important marine invertebrates (scallop and oyster) and ecologically important marine invertebrates (sponge and sea urchin) exposed to UV-B radiation and to anthropogenic or natural xenobiotics, and their combinations (laboratory experiments and field studies). (3) The combinatory effects of pollution and UV exposure on scallop, oyster, and sea urchin embryo development will be studied. (4) Three different molecular biosensors for monitoring the effects of solar UV-B radiation and of xenobiotics, or their combinations will be developed: a) immunosensor, b) DNA affinity biosensor, and c) DNA damage sensor. (5) The cellular and molecular biosensors will be validated in laboratory experiments and in field experiments.

EXPECTED IMPACTS

The achievements will be the development and introduction of novel cellular and molecular biosensor technologies for detection of the effects of environmental stress by UV-B exposure without or in combination with stress by pollution in ecologically and/or commercially important marine invertebrates. The techniques to be introduced (marine invertebrate cell cultures and biosensor technology) will increase the competitive capacity of the EU and promote the sustainable growth of a marine invertebrate industry in Europe.

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