CE34 - Contaminants, écosystèmes et santé

ISOtopes of Metal Elements for Tracing marine METabolism – ISO2MET

Submission summary

Trace metals play key roles in the metabolic cycles of marine organisms. Metal enrichment in polluted areas may also be responsible for reproductive anomalies and ecological disturbance since the onset of the industrial era. Despite recent advances in ecotoxicology and in molecular biology, the relationships between the concentrations of trace metals and marine biomass or biodiversity remain uncertain.
Members of ISO2MET consortium have evidenced that trace metals are isotopically fractionated in biological organisms. They recently discovered that this is due in a large part to the action of specific ion transporters that can be measured with a great accuracy. This offers a novel and unique approach to trace the mechanisms of accumulation, elimination and/or toxicity of trace metals in marine organisms.
ISO2MET will target three trace metals with intensive industrial application and high potential in marine ecotoxicology: zinc, copper, lithium. At the biochemical and cellular levels, we will quantify and model biological isotope fractionation performed by the major transporters of these metals, using state-of-the-art ion transport and electrophysiology techniques. At the organism level, we will perform high sensitivity isotopic measurements both on natural samples of plankton, plankton eaters and sediments collected in contrasted environments, and on laboratory aquacultures in controlled conditions. We will also explore bivalve shells and coral skeletons as new proxies in isotopic ecotoxicology.
To achieve this work, several internationally recognized laboratories decided to merge their resources and their competences. Thus, ISO2MET consortium is composed of physiologists and ecotoxicologists (LIENSs, IAEA-REL), experts in trace metal regulation by marine species, biochemists (LP2M), specialists of metal transfer in animal cells, geochemists (LOV, LGLTPE), specialized in non-conventional isotopes in the environment, and ecologists of marine plankton and trophic transfer (LOV, LIENSs). Owing to this innovative combination, the expectation is to provide a quantum leap improvement in our understanding of the link between metal levels and marine life evolution.

Project coordinator

Laboratoire d'océanographie de Villefranche (Laboratoire public)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Laboratoire d'océanographie de Villefranche
IAEA-REL / Radiocology Laboratory
Laboratoire de Physio-Médecine Moléculaire
Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés
Laboratoire de géologie de Lyon : Terre, planètes et environnement

Help of the ANR 388,773 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2018 - 48 Months

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