Department Environmental Toxicology

Teaching

We are actively involved in formal course instructions and thesis supervision.

 

Course TitleCourse NumberPersons Involved
Advanced Ecotoxicology (ETHZ)701-1312-00LRik Eggen, Elisabeth Janssen,
Kristin Schirmer, Marc Suter
Molecular Ecotoxicology (ETHZ)701-1330-00LKristin Schirmer, Renata Behra,
Rik Eggen, Smitha Pillai
Introduction to Toxicology (ETHZ)752-1300-01LRik Eggen, Melanie Erzinger, Shana Sturla
Ecotoxicology (EPFL)ENV-306Kristin Schirmer, Julita Stadnicka

Contact

Dr. Marc SuterTel. +41 58 765 5479Send Mail

Master Topics

Master student in environmental toxicology:
Functional Genomics of green algae exposed to silver

Silver (Ag) toxicity to aquatic organisms, historically, has been a concern because of the effluents of photo-processing and mining industries. More recently, the increased used of Ag as Ag-nanoparticles in consumer products has been found to increase the concentration of Ag in aquatic environments. Ag is considered an important contaminant that has high environmental impact because of the effects on health of the ecosystem and bioaccumulation, with even low nanomolar concentrations of Ag causing adverse effects. Still, the molecular mechanisms of silver toxicity have not been widely explored and it is still not clear how exactly silver causes adverse effects. In the last year, Utox has developed a gene co-expression network of the single-cell green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and used it to predict genes involved in tolerance and sensitivity of the alga to ionic silver. Now, it is time to test the prediction using algal mutants that correspond to these genes.

AIM: The aim of the master project is to use the mutants of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, where the genes we predicted to be involved in silver toxicity are dysfunctional, and test them under silver exposure.  

METHODS: The candidate will use PCR to confirm the identitiy of the mutants, run exposure tests of Chlamydomonas to Ag and evaluate effect of exposure on photosynthesis using pulse-amplitude modulated chlorophyll fluorometry (PAM), and put together dose-response curves using R statistical software.

Suitable candidates for this project are expected to hold a BSc degree in environmental sciences or a related discipline, to have some lab experience and interest in environmental science.

For further information please contact Anze Zupanic (anze.zupanic@eawag.ch). This research will be performed at the department of Environmental Toxicology in Dübendorf.

Master student in environmental sciences/engineering: Mathematical modeling of a novel in vitro system for measuring permeation of hydrophobic and volatile chemical across a fish intestinal epithelial cell monolayer

Permeation of organic chemicals from the aquatic environment across cellular barriers is a critical step for accumulation in organisms, such as fish. To better understand the underlying processes, we aim to study the role of the fish intestine as barrier for hydrophobic and volatile chemicals. Therefore, at the department of environmental toxicology, we combined a recently developed in vitro epithelial barrier model using the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) intestinal cell line, RTgutGC, and a newly constructed chamber that enables stable chemical exposure concentrations.We estimated  the effective permeation of different chemicals across the intestinal epithelial monolayer and measured chemical mass in different biological and non-biological compartments of the system over time. Mathematical modeling of the experiment is now needed to determine which processes (passive diffusion, carrier-mediated influx/efflux, binding, biotransformation) are dominant for the measured chemicals and  what are their corresponding rates. 

AIM: The aim of the master project is to build a family of mathematical models that describe the permeation experiments, use model selection to find the dominant processes in the experiments with different chemicals and use the best fitting models to estimate the effective permeation coefficient.

METHODS: The candidate will use Matlab to build the models and perform parameter estimation, identifiability analysis and model selection, using algorithms available at the department for environmental toxicology. In case of extensive expertise of the student, shifting to a different modeling environment is an option.

Suitable candidates for this project are expected to hold a BSc degree in environmental sciences or a related discipline and to have sufficient experience in dynamic ODE modeling.

For further information please contact Anze Zupanic (anze.zupanic@eawag.ch). This research will be performed at the department of Environmental Toxicology in Dübendorf.