Invited Speakers

Prof. Ludek Blaha

Masaryk University, Faculty of Science, Brno, Czech Republic

Ludek Blaha is professor of Environmental Toxicology at RECETOX, Masaryk University, and a vice-dean for Research at Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. His research interests include fate and effects of emerging organic contaminants in aquatic ecosystems, toxicology of harmful algal and cyanobacterial blooms, mechanisms of toxicity, carcinogenicity and endocrine disruption, and human and ecological risk assessment. He has received PhD in 1999 at Masaryk University, and have experiences from both his current positions as well as previous work at Michigan State University, National Water Research Institute at Environment Canada, and Czech research institutes (Institute of Botany of Academy of Science, Veterinary Research Institute, Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute). He is author or co-author of 130 ISI WOS journal papers (h-index 27) and 10 book chapters. He was principal investigator (PI) or co-PI of total 22 grants, and actively contributed to 15 other international and national projects (including NATO, EU FP5-7, H2020, NIH R01, UNEP and others). He served as a vice-chair of the EU COST action ES1105 CYANOCOST. Prof. Blaha teaches 4 full semester classes on toxicology, ecotoxicology, mechanisms of toxicity and biomarkers. He has been mentor of doctoral students (14 successfully defended PhDs), over 20 MSc/BSc student projects and supervised international mobility and developmental projects of young postdoctoral researchers (EU Marie Curie, SciEx). He is a member of editorial boards of Chemosphere, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, and Environmental Sciences Europe. He serves as an expert for European Medicines Agency (environmental risk assessment of veterinary pharmaceuticals) and is a member of the Committee at SETAC (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) Certification of Environmental Risk Assessors Programme.

Chemical cocktails in water – understanding the risks for organisms and ecosystems

One of the main problems for both research and regulation of the aquatic ecosystem pollution are the chemical mixtures that are not properly addressed by currently applied risk assessment schemes. In this presentation we first discuss the results from European chemical and effect-based monitoring campaigns of surface and underground waters that illustrate the diversity of contaminant mixtures with particular focus on chemicals of emerging concern such as human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, currently used pesticides or personal care products (Jarosova et al. ESPR 21:10970). Further, the examples of unexpected mixture effects on biota are shown to illustrate the potential impacts and knowledge gaps. In particular, we discuss the relevance of environmental quality standards, EQS, applied within the European Water Framework Directive, WFD, by discussing the results of a recent mixture toxicity interlaboratory study (Carvalho et al. Toxicol Sci 141:218). Finally, we provide a brief insight into the currently applied methods for the mixture risk assessment including the Mode of Action, MoA, based concentration and effect additivity. The feasibility of the concept is shown by the examples of our studies predicting the pesticide mixture risks to biota in European rivers (Species Sensitivity Distribution, SSD modelling) that were successfully validated by biomonitoring of benthic macroinvertebrates using the SPEAR index (Smetanova et al. Environ Pollution 189:126).

Dr. Patrick Venail

Département F.A. Forel, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Patrick Venail is a French-Colombian community ecologist.
He got his master’s degree in Biodiversity, Evolution and Environment at the Université de Montpellier II (France) on 2006 and his PhD on Ecology and Evolution from the same institution in 2010. In 2011 the French Society of Ecology awarded him as the best young ecology researcher after his publication in Nature about testing the influence of dispersal on the diversity and functioning of experimental metacommunities. From 2010 to 2013 he worked as post-doc fellow, first at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota (Colombia) and later at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan (USA) where he started using phytoplankton as an experimental model system. Since April 2013 he is a Senior Research and Teaching Assistant at the University of Geneva (Switzerland) in the Microbial Ecology group.
His research focuses on understanding the diversity of life (biodiversity). His interests are at the interface between microbiology, ecology and evolution. Working with microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, microscopic algae) allows him exploring both ecological and evolutionary processes simultaneously. He has two major research axes. First, to explore the fundaments of the diversification process and how the emerging diversity organizes into communities. Second, to evaluate and understand how changes in biological diversity influence the functioning of ecological systems and the provisioning of ecosystem functions and services. To explore those topics, he has worked with a variety of organisms, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, from terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems. He has mostly worked under controlled laboratory conditions but has recently been involved in several fieldwork studies in Russia and Ecuador. Currently he is focused in lake systems and their provisioning of ecosystem services and into understanding the link between phytoplankton diversity and water quality.

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in freshwater phytoplankton: past trends, present gaps, future challenges.

Freshwater lentic ecosystems (e.g. lakes, ponds, reservoirs) are vital for humanity as providers of a variety of ecosystem services. Still, anthropogenic activities leading to contamination, eutrophication and reduction of its associated biodiversity are putting these ecosystems under major stress. Within the plethora of organisms living in freshwater ecosystems phytoplankton is the base of the entire trophic web and is known to play a major role in the fluxes of matter and energy. Despite the recent efforts to better understand the structure, composition and functioning of phytoplankton communities in freshwater systems we still have a pretty limited understanding of the impact of phytoplankton diversity on ecosystem functioning. We lack information especially on how its diversity simultaneously influences multiple functions such as nutrient use and subsequently biomass production. The aims of this talk is to explore the evidence on the impact phytoplankton diversity on ecosystem functioning in freshwater lentic systems, to underline the major gaps in our current knowledge and, most importantly, to find ways to move forward in this field of research.

Tools SRL
Via G. De Gioannis 27, 09125 Cagliari (CA)