Project No.

Foraminifera as marine pollution sensors with short-term to long-term responses


PI: dr Michael Lintner

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Mentor: prof. dr hab. Jarosław Tyszka

Uncontrolled pollution of the seas and oceans has been increased dramatically in recent decades. This phenomenon is most visible in coastal areas on a macroscopic scale, in the form of countless fragments of garbage. No less important is the microscopic scale of water contamination, with dispersed micro- and nanoparticles and dissolved chemicals. Exactly these contaminants can particularly harm many microorganisms and disrupting the base of the food chain. As a result, the effect of decreasing oxygen concentrations in the sea leading to ecological imbalance and declining fish stocks. The following project investigates the relationship between man-made pollution and important living microorganisms, foraminifera, in the marine coastal habitat. For this purpose, samples will be taken from the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. These marine areas are key fishing zones which are directly linked to the health and lives of many people. The research focuses on analyzing contaminants such as microplastics, heavy metals, pesticides, sunscreens and antibiotics that enter the sea as a result of human activities. We test the impact of these pollutants - on different time scales - on benthic foraminifera, which inhabit the seafloor in high numbers. These single-celled organisms, which leave a record in the sediments in the form of microfossils, are extremely sensitive indicators of environmental changes, both on the modern scale and in the geological past. Based on the results of experimental studies, we will determine which substances are most harmful to marine microorganisms, and therefore which ones should be eliminated or reduced in the future.

This research is part of the project No. 2022/47/P/ST10/01013 co-funded by the National Science Centre and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 945339.

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