Department Environmental Toxicology

Aquatic Biofilms

Biofilms contribute to crucial ecosystem processes in aquatic ecosystems and capture much of the biological complexity occurring in the environment. Importantly, the high microbial diversity, and sensitivities to environmental changes, suggests that the microorganisms composing biofilms are a suitable model to assess contaminant effects on complex ecological systems. 

By using aquatic biofilms, we aim in our group to (i) unravel the underlying mechanisms of toxicity and biological responses to pollutants at the community level, and (ii) develop and optimize standardized risk assessment approaches accounting for the chemical and biological complexity in the environment. In particular, we are interested in understanding adaptation processes in microbial communities, following chronic exposures to pollutants, as these processes can be ultimately used to establish causalities in the environment.

Latest publications

Carles, L., Wullschleger, S., Joss, A., Eggen, R. I. L., Schirmer, K., Schuwirth, N., … Tlili, A. (2022). Wastewater microorganisms impact microbial diversity and important ecological functions of stream periphyton. Water Research, 225, 119119 (13 pp.). doi:10.1016/j.watres.2022.119119, Institutional Repository
Groh, K., vom Berg, C., Schirmer, K., & Tlili, A. (2022). Anthropogenic chemicals as underestimated drivers of biodiversity loss: scientific and societal implications. Environmental Science and Technology, 56(2), 707-710. doi:10.1021/acs.est.1c08399, Institutional Repository
Guasch, H., Bernal, S., Bruno, D., Almroth, B. C., Cochero, J., Corcoll, N., … Martí, E. (2022). Interactions between microplastics and benthic biofilms in fluvial ecosystems: knowledge gaps and future trends. Freshwater Science, 41(3), 442-458. doi:10.1086/721472, Institutional Repository
Holzer, M., Mitrano, D. M., Carles, L., Wagner, B., & Tlili, A. (2022). Important ecological processes are affected by the accumulation and trophic transfer of nanoplastics in a freshwater periphyton-grazer food chain. Environmental Science: Nano, 9, 2990-3003. doi:10.1039/D2EN00101B, Institutional Repository
Lamprecht, O., Wagner, B., Derlon, N., & Tlili, A. (2022). Synthetic periphyton as a model system to understand species dynamics in complex microbial freshwater communities. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 8, 61 (14 pp.). doi:10.1038/s41522-022-00322-y, Institutional Repository
Merbt, S. N., Kroll, A., Tamminen, M., Rühs, P. A., Wagner, B., Sgier, L., … Behra, R. (2022). Influence of microplastics on microbial structure, function, and mechanical properties of stream periphyton. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10, 928247 (17 pp.). doi:10.3389/fenvs.2022.928247, Institutional Repository
Tamminen, M., Spaak, J., Tlili, A., Eggen, R., Stamm, C., & Räsänen, K. (2022). Wastewater constituents impact biofilm microbial community in receiving streams. Science of the Total Environment, 807(3), 151080 (8 pp.). doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151080, Institutional Repository
Carles, L., Wullschleger, S., Joss, A., Eggen, R. I. L., Schirmer, K., Schuwirth, N., … Tlili, A. (2021). Impact of wastewater on the microbial diversity of periphyton and its tolerance to micropollutants in an engineered flow-through channel system. Water Research, 203, 117486 (14 pp.). doi:10.1016/j.watres.2021.117486, Institutional Repository
Lyautey, E., Bonnineau, C., Billard, P., Loizeau, J. L., Naffrechoux, E., Tlili, A., … Pesce, S. (2021). Diversity, functions and antibiotic resistance of sediment microbial communities from Lake Geneva are driven by the spatial distribution of anthropogenic contamination. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, 738629 (15 pp.). doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.738629, Institutional Repository
Tlili, A. (2021). Effects of engineered nanoparticles on plant litter decomposition in streams. In C. M. Swan, L. Boyero, & C. Canhoto (Eds.), The ecology of plant litter decomposition in stream ecosystems (pp. 411-430). doi:10.1007/978-3-030-72854-0_18, Institutional Repository
Batista, D., Tlili, A., Gessner, M. O., Pascoal, C., & Cássio, F. (2020). Nanosilver impacts on aquatic microbial decomposers and litter decomposition assessed as pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT). Environmental Science: Nano, 7(7), 2130-2139. doi:10.1039/D0EN00375A, Institutional Repository
Creusot, N., Casado-Martinez, C., Chiaia-Hernandez, A., Kiefer, K., Ferrari, B. J. D., Fu, Q., … Hollender, J. (2020). Retrospective screening of high-resolution mass spectrometry archived digital samples can improve environmental risk assessment of emerging contaminants: a case study on antifungal azoles. Environment International, 139, 105708 (10 pp.). doi:10.1016/j.envint.2020.105708, Institutional Repository
Tlili, A., Corcoll, N., Arrhenius, Å., Backhaus, T., Hollender, J., Creusot, N., … Behra, R. (2020). Tolerance patterns in stream biofilms link complex chemical pollution to ecological impacts. Environmental Science and Technology, 54(17), 10745-10753. doi:10.1021/acs.est.0c02975, Institutional Repository
Gil-Allué, C., Tlili, A., Schirmer, K., Gessner, M. O., & Behra, R. (2018). Long-term exposure to silver nanoparticles affects periphyton community structure and function. Environmental Science: Nano, 5(6), 1397-1407. doi:10.1039/C8EN00132D, Institutional Repository
Jabiol, J., Cornut, J., Tlili, A., & Gessner, M. O. (2018). Interactive effects of dissolved nitrogen, phosphorus and litter chemistry on stream fungal decomposers. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 94(10), fiy151 (11 pp.). doi:10.1093/femsec/fiy151, Institutional Repository
Laux, P., Riebeling, C., Booth, A. M., Brain, J. D., Brunner, J., Cerrillo, C., … Luch, A. (2018). Challenges in characterizing the environmental fate and effects of carbon nanotubes and inorganic nanomaterials in aquatic systems. Environmental Science: Nano, 5(1), 48-63. doi:10.1039/c7en00594f, Institutional Repository
Sgier, L., Merbt, S. N., Tlili, A., Kroll, A., & Zupanic, A. (2018). Characterization of aquatic biofilms with flow cytometry. Journal of Visualized Experiments (136), e57655 (9 pp.). doi:10.3791/57655, Institutional Repository
Tlili, A.; Jabiol, J.; Behra, R.; Gil-Allue, C.; Gessner, M. O. (2017) Chronic exposure effects of silver nanoparticles on stream microbial decomposer communities and ecosystem functions, Environmental Science and Technology, 51(4), 2447-2455, doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b05508, Institutional Repository
Tlili, A.; Hollender, J.; Kienle, C.; Behra, R. (2017) Micropollutant-induced tolerance of in situ periphyton: establishing causality in wastewater-impacted streams, Water Research, 111, 185-194, doi:10.1016/j.watres.2017.01.016, Institutional Repository
Stamm, C.; Burdon, F.; Fischer, S.; Kienle, C.; Munz, N.; Tlili, A.; Altermatt, F.; Behra, R.; Bürgmann, H.; Joss, A.; Räsänen, K.; Eggen, R. (2017) Einfluss von Mikroverunreinigungen, Aqua & Gas, 97(6), 90-95, Institutional Repository
Tlili, A.; Cornut, J.; Behra, R.; Gil-Allué, C.; Gessner, M. O. (2016) Harmful effects of silver nanoparticles on a complex detrital model system, Nanotoxicology, 10(6), 728-735, doi:10.3109/17435390.2015.1117673, Institutional Repository
Gil-Allué, C.; Schirmer, K.; Tlili, A.; Gessner, M. O.; Behra, R. (2015) Silver nanoparticle effects on stream periphyton during short-term exposures, Environmental Science and Technology, 49(2), 1165-1172, doi:10.1021/es5050166, Institutional Repository
Tlili, A.; Berard, A.; Blanck, H.; Bouchez, A.; Cássio, F.; Eriksson, K. M.; Morin, S.; Montuelle, B.; Navarro, E.; Pascoal, C.; Pesce, S.; Schmitt-Jansen, M.; Behra, R. (2016) Pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT): towards an ecologically relevant risk assessment of chemicals in aquatic systems, Freshwater Biology, 61(12), 2141-2151, doi:10.1111/fwb.12558, Institutional Repository


Prof. Dr. Kristin Schirmer Head of department Tel. +41 58 765 5266 Send Mail

Team members

Sara Isabel Bastos Goncalves Postdoctoral researcher Tel. +41 58 765 5657 Send Mail
Sarah Descloux P.hD. Student Tel. +41 58 765 5450 Send Mail
Emera Forni Scientific Assistant Tel. +41 58 765 5271 Send Mail
Bettina Wagner Lab Technician Tel. +41 58 765 5342 Send Mail

Introduction video

"Characterization of Aquatic Biofilms with Flow Cytometry"