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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Biomarkers Laboratory

Themes and organization of the biomarkers laboratory

The laboratory conducts innovative research on the theme of biomarkers in metabolomics and lipidomics. Our work aims to develop new descriptors for exposure-effect relationships, and for both biological and ecological impacts. These biomarkers will improve the specific apprehension and early response to different types of stress, compared to classical global descriptors (growth, respiration, photosynthesis). In addition, metabolomics and lipidomics address physiological mechanisms within organisms. These approaches provide a more precise understanding of the physiological mechanisms within organisms following toxic stress. Indeed, exposure to toxic stress alters the molecular response of biota, while certain abiotic parameters such as temperature, light or nutrients modulate the measured responses.

In addition, our research in ecotoxicology benefits from our strong and previous expertise in the development of passive sampling devices. These techniques make possible to link in situ exposure with biological effects observed on aquatic organisms (plants, fish, shrimp). The use of passive integrative samplers improves the spatio-temporal resolution of contamination measurements, within the framework of WFD monitoring or trend monitoring. Finally, the laboratory’s analytical capacities and skills allow the measurement of both physico-chemical parameters and nutrients, with the aim of characterizing the trophic level, in connection with primary producers in freshwater. The accurate description of either in situ or laboratory (i.e. microcosmes) exposure supports the works in ecology and ecotoxicology of the ECOVEA team, and the EABX research unit.

Focus on Passive Sampling of Pesticides in Aquatic Environments

Today, the practice routinely used in aquatic monitoring networks is spot sampling. This approach presents a major defect in temporal representativeness when it is carried out with a reduced frequency (monthly water sampling for example). Indeed, it is an instantaneous measurement that does not take into account the real variations in contaminant concentrations over time and leads, for example, to an overestimation of the risk.

Labo_Biomarq_1-Variabilité prélèvements

The most obvious solution would be to increase the number of samples taken; however, there is a rapid increase in analytical costs, which is incompatible with large-scale water quality monitoring.

Another approach that has emerged over the last 15 years is to place a continuous contaminant trapping device in the environment. This so-called passive sampling technique currently offers the best compromise since it results in an integrated measurement of pollutants over time (average concentrations) with acceptable costs and logistics. The work carried out in the water chemistry laboratory since 2005 has focused on the development of "Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers" (POCIS).

Labo_Biomarq_2-POCIS avant et après expo

The relevance of these devices has been demonstrated in order to continuously monitor the contamination of various rivers (Charente, Leyre, Gave de Pau, Morcille-Ardières) by pesticides. Validation work is currently continuing within the framework of Aquaref, notably with inter-laboratory tests. In addition, prospects are expected for the application of POCIS to better estimate the exposure of aquatic organisms and more particularly the impact of pesticides on river biofilms.

Water chemistry laboratory equipment
Ovens and scales
  • Ovens (Memmert ) and muffle furnace (Nabertherm)
  • Precision balance MS 204S (Mettler)
  • Scale PB 1501 (Mettler)
Labo_Biomarq_4-prépa micropol
Labo_Biomarq_3-sale prépa physico-chimie
Sample Preparation
  • Extractor hoods
  • Bench mattresses
  • Mineralization ramps (total phosphorus dosage)
  • Centrifuge ST16 (Thermo)
  • Large volume centrifuge (JOUAN)
  • Water station MQ Neptune (France Water)
  • Sieve shaker AS200 (Retsch)
  • Automatic Distillation Unit B-324 (Buchi) for Kjeldahl nitrogen
  • Alpha 1/2-4 freeze dryer (CHRIST)
  • Multi-station evaporator SpeedVac SPD121P (Thermo)
  • Pressurized solid-liquid extraction system ASE 200 (Dionex) for sediments, sludges and biological matrices
  • HiSorb Agitator Incubator (Markes)
Physico-chemical analyses, organic carbon and nutrient analysis
  • pH titrator and TAC easy plus (Mettler Toledo)
  • TOC-VWP TOC meter (Shimadzu) equipped with a persulphate oxidation system
  • UV-visible spectrophotometer 1800 (Shimadzu)
  • Compact Ion Chromatography System 881 with 858 automated sample/dilution changer and conductivity detector (Metrohm)
Labo_Biomarq_5-chromato ionique
Labo_Biomarq_6-spectro et lecteur paques
Bio-organic analyses
  • microplate, multiskan (Thermofisher) and Synergy HT (Bioteck) readers
Dosage of organic pesticides
  • Gas chromatography coupled to a tandem mass spectrometer TSQ Quantum GC - GC-MS/MS (Thermo)
  • UltiMate 3000 High Performance Liquid Chromatography (Thermo) coupled to an API 2000 Tandem Mass Spectrometer (AB Sciex)
  • Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography ACQUITY H-Class (Waters) coupled to Xevo G2-S ToF time-of-flight mass spectrometer (Waters)
Determination of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Thermal Desorption Module TD100-xr Advanced, integrated sample changer, (Markes) coupled to GC-MS/MS (Thermo)
Labo_Biomarq_8-équipement micropol(1)
Health & Safety and miscellaneous equipment
  • Storage cabinet for acids, bases and solvents with activated carbon CAPTAIR
  • Showers and eye rinses
  • Safety refrigerators for storage of chemicals and samples
  • Safety freezers for storage of chemical products, standard solutions
  • Demineralized water (purification by resin cartridge), many points of arrival in the different parts.
  • Nitrogen generator (AirFlux)
  • Air compressor (AirFlux)
  • Outdoor room for gas cylinders: Nitrogen, Argon and Helium 6.0
  • Outdoor room for storage of solvents, acids, bases, etc.
  • Outdoor room for waste storage before recycling