Department Environmental Toxicology

How do aquatic organisms respond to stress?

We investigate how freshwater organisms respond to chemical exposure and other stressors in their environment. In particular, we explore adaptive and toxicological response pathways and develop conceptual and computational models to support knowledge-based risk assessment.

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Utox research 2 times on cover of Chemical Research in Toxicology

Characterization of the Mercapturic Acid Pathway, an Important Phase II Biotransformation Route, in a Zebrafish Embryo Cell Line

In her PhD thesis, Alena Tierbach could show that the zebrafish embryo-derived PAC2 cell line expresses a fully functional mercapturic acid pathway. Using the model electrophile CDNB she could follow its transformation to the mercapturate using LC-MS. The data provides an important contribution towards using zebrafish cell lines for animal-free high-throughput screening in toxicology and chemical hazard assessment. read more

Computable networks are valuable tools in toxicology as they provide insights into molecular mechanisms, offer high predictive power, and allow reduction in animals used for testing. Roman Li and colleagues leveraged these principles for ecotoxicological research by developing a computable network describing zebrafish cardiotoxicity. Used together with transcriptomic datasets, their systems toxicology method accurately predicted cardiac phenotypes in silico and should, therefore, be a useful tool in studying cardiac toxicity. read more

Research on the forefront

Photo: Basil Stücheli
Professor Kristin Schirmer (right) and her colleague Melanie Fischer

Award for excellent alternatives for animal trials

Toxicity tests are currently still carried out mainly on livestock. Within the context of environmental risk assessment, this is done most commonly on fish. An alternative method developed by Eawag researchers is currently overcoming crucial hurdles to its widespread use in practice. Thanks in part to the persuasive efforts of the scientists involved.              read more

Latest publications

Fitzgerald, J. A.; Könemann, S.; Krümpelmann, L.; Županič, A.; vom Berg, C. (2020) Approaches to test the neurotoxicity of environmental contaminants in the zebrafish model - from behavior to molecular mechanisms, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, doi:10.1002/etc.4951, Institutional Repository
Carles, L.; Artigas, J. (2020) Interaction between glyphosate and dissolved phosphorus on bacterial and eukaryotic communities from river biofilms, Science of the Total Environment, 719, 137463 (10 pp.), doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137463, Institutional Repository
Tierbach, A.; Groh, K. J.; Schoenenberger, R.; Schirmer, K.; Suter, M. J. -F. (2020) Characterization of the mercapturic acid pathway, an important phase II biotransformation route, in a zebrafish embryo cell line, Chemical Research in Toxicology, 33(11), 2863-2871, doi:10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00315, Institutional Repository
Li, R.; Zupanic, A.; Talikka, M.; Belcastro, V.; Madan, S.; Dörpinghaus, J.; vom Berg, C.; Szostak, J.; Martin, F.; Peitsch, M. C.; Hoeng, J. (2020) Systems toxicology approach for testing chemical cardiotoxicity in larval zebrafish, Chemical Research in Toxicology, 33(10), 2550-2564, doi:10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00095, Institutional Repository