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Florian Zindler


Centre for Organismal Studies

Abteilung Tierphysiologie / Entwicklungsbiologie

Im Neuenheimer Feld 504

Phone: +49-(0)6221/54-5629

Fax:: +49-(0)6221/54-6162

e-Mail: zindler@stud.uni-heidelberg.de




Dissertation title:

Neurotoxic Potential of anthropogenic Micropollutants in Zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Short description:

Over the last decades, attempts were made with great efforts to protect drinking water quality as well as to improve the ecological and chemical status of surface water bodies. These attempts led to significant decreases of phosphor and nitrogen emissions, which belong to the classical parameters influencing water quality negatively. In many cases, however, the ecological status of surface water bodies is still categorized as moderate to bad quality.  In part, this can be caused by the entry of high consumption chemicals (e.g., pharmaceuticals or food additives) into the aquatic environment. The long-term impacts of such chemicals (also referred to as micropollutants) on aquatic ecosystems remain to a large extent unclear. As a consequence of this, the Wissenschaftsministerium (Ministry of Science) of Baden-Württemberg initiated the joint project ‘Eff-Net’ (Effect Network in Water Research) which primary purpose is to support the development of a scientific network. Based on biological endpoints, this network will enable the identification, quantification and risk evaluation of hazardous high consumption chemicals in aquatic ecosystems.

To assess the ecological impacts of selected neuroactive micropollutants on aquatic ecosystems, the neurotoxic potential of these compounds will be investigated in larval zebrafish (Danio rerio). Particular emphasis is given to behavioural changes after exposure to neuroactive compounds at environmentally relevant concentrations. For this, spontaneous movements and complex movement patterns following various exposure scenarios will be recorded and evaluated. Ideally, behavioural changes upon micropollutant exposure will be associated with morphological anomalies, i.e. structural alterations in the nervous system. A well-founded combination of further toxicological endpoints will support the development of extrapolation schemes such as ‘Adverse Outcome Pathways’ (AOPs) which enable a competent risk assessment of the investigated micropollutants. Moreover, new approaches for the investigation of neurotoxic effects will be compiled based on the data generated, and examined for their suitability as High-Throughput-Screening (HTS).