Ecotoxicology and genetic markers
Maria C. Hansson
The main purpose of our research is to contribute with new knowledge about how environmental pollutants affect natural organisms, thereby contributing to understanding the risks and hazards that may emerge from chemical exposure.
The current very high release of chemicals and toxic materials into our environments puts both organisms and humans at serious risk. But how this exposure affects different species is to large extents mostly unknown. Chemicals can interact with cellular signaling processes and hormone systems at very low concentrations, which can lead to for example disruptions of endocrine functions and damage to the immune system. Some toxic chemicals released into our environment are highly persistent and continue to exposure organisms for decades or even longer. In addition, when chemicals occur in mixtures non-predicted combination effects can occur. A changing climate, with increased temperatures and other precipitation patterns, can also greatly influence risks from chemical exposure. Taken together the chemicals in our environments can cause and lead to serious consequences for both current and future generations. Identifying these emerging risks are of very high priority.
In our research group, we combine a range of expertise, including molecular biology, ecology, chemistry, geology, archaeology and physics. We use various techniques that include PCR, DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, spectroscopy, and imaging.
We for example identify specific genes that are affected by chemical exposure or how substances that are used in gardens, or leak from materials and plastics, affect the behavior and life of natural organisms.
Our goal is that these investigations and analyses will provide politicians, environmental agencies, companies and decision makers with scientific evidence on how chemical pollution impacts our environments, both short- and long term.