Life support system to study effects of climate change and pollution
Published in 29/7/2013
CESAM researchers have developed a life support system that allows studying the effects of climate change and pollution on benthic organisms in coastal regions. The scientific community has been alerting for the potential adverse effects on marine ecosystems that may result from interactions between climate change and pollutants of human origin. However, there is an uncertainty on the consequences, on marine organisms, of the various climate change scenarios in conjunction with the increasing levels of pollutants in the environment. The major obstacle in this area of research relates to the difficulty in simulating scenarios of climate change and pollution in natural environments. A team involving researchers from the Universities of Aveiro, Coimbra, Porto and Algarve built and validated a life support system ("Experimental life support system") to simulate scenarios of climate change and contamination in marine sediments. The aim is to use communities of organisms associated with sediment as a model, so can figure out the combined effects of climate change and pollution. Unlike existing equipment to laboratory simulations, this system can be replicated by researchers all over the world, since it is constructed from materials which are commercially available. Besides design and construction of the equipment, the researchers used advanced techniques of molecular biology and ecotoxicology to validate the system for future studies with model organisms and organisms associated with sediment.
The work, published in the journal Global Change Biology, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12227/abstract , one of the most quoted worldwide in the area of climate change, is part of the doctoral studies of Francisco Coelho and was coordinated by Newton Gomes, assistant researcher in CESAM/Department of Biology at the University of Aveiro.