Transnational R&D


Toward a risk-based assessment of microplastic pollution in marine ecosystems

Principal Investigator
Team Leader
Lúcia Guilhermino (PhD Biology, University of Coimbra) is Full Professor at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS) of the University of Porto (U.Porto), and President of the Ethics Commission, Principal Investigator (PI) of the Research Line of Global Changes and Ecosystems Services, and PI of the Research Team of Aquatic Ecotoxicology and One Health of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR). Coordinator of the Doctoral Programme in Environmental Contamination and Toxicology and of the Master in Environmental Toxicology and Contamination of the U. Porto,  and Coordinator by U.Porto of the Environmental Contamination and Toxicology Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree, among other functions. 
Main research: combined effects of climate changes, chemical contaminants (e.g., microplastics, nanomaterials, pharmaceuticals, metals) and other stressors on marine and freshwater organisms and ecosystems, and the resulting risks to global health. L. Guilhermino coordinated/participated in several national and international projects participated published more than 200 articles in indexed (Scopus and/or WoS) scientific journals, among more than 300 other publications.

No results found.

RESPONSE integrates expertise on oceanography, environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, experimental ecology and modelling to answer key research questions on fate and biological effects of microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) in marine ecosystems.

Hydrological transport dynamics will identify possible accumulation zones in European coastal ecosystems, while characterization of vertical distribution of MPs and NPs in the water column and sediments will optimise practical monitoring and sampling efforts. Links between oceanographic conditions, environmental distribution of MPs and NPs, trophic transfer and impact to pelagic food webs and benthic communities will be addressed by analysing their abundance and typologies in representative marine species, as well as relevant ecosystem functions and services. Innovative mesocosm and laboratory studies will validate weighting factors and toxicological thresholds for MPs and NPs. The approach will assess the role of size, shape and other polymer characteristics in modulating biological effects of particles, both alone and in combination with other environmental stressors. A technological Smart Hub, combining complementary instrumental facilities and expertise of some partners and external companies, will support analytical needs of the consortium and further methodological developments. The overall aim of RESPONSE is to develop a quantitative Weight Of Evidence (WOE) model for MPs and NPs in the marine environment. The model will be designed to integrate and differentially weight data from a suite of lines of evidence, including (1) the presence of MPs and NPs in water column and sediments, (2) their bioavailability and bioaccumulation in key indicator species from benthic and planktonic communities (3) sublethal effects measured via biomarkers, (4) the onset of chronic adverse effects at the organism level, and (5) ecological functioning. The results will provide support for development of MSFD monitoring strategies.

Leader Institution
Polytechnic University of Marche
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