NanoReproTox-Unraveling the ecological impacts of nanoparticles toxicity in the reproduction of marine organisms


Cláudia Leopoldina de Brito e Veiga Rodrigues Mieiro


Programa Operacional da Competitividade e Internacionalização (02/SAICT/2017)


29/09/2018 - 28/09/2022

Funding for CESAM

178939 €

Total Funding

233719 €

Participating Institutions

  • Centro de Ciências do Mar (CCMAR), Universidade do Algarve
  • MARE-NOVA; NOVA.ID.FCT - Associação para a Inovação e Desenvolvimento da FCT

The production of engineered nanoparticles (NP) is estimated to increase to 58.000 tons/year by 2020 [52], with its consequent release to the water. Despite NP extensive use, there are no guidelines concerning their release in the aquatic systems, namely the marine system, and as far as our knowledge goes, there are no studies regarding NP toxicity on the reproduction of marine species. The awareness of the importance of NP applications to the aquaculture, as vaccines and as tools for the diagnosis of diseases [46] stresses even further the need to assess NP toxicity.
Reproduction, and especially, reproductive tissues and gametes have been identified as sensitive to NP toxicity [49-50]. Despite controversial data about male gametes, most of the assays found that NP might cross biological barriers into reproductive tissue inducing harmful effects both on mammalian gametes and ultimately inducing physiological effects and inhibiting fertility [25,49-50]. In this way, this project will evaluate the potential reprotoxicity of the most used NP (TiO2 and Ag) in gametes and gonads of 2 representative marine species (mussel and seabream), in order to reliably estimate NP’s deleterious potential to marine organisms, allowing proposing strategies that might mitigate NP-mediated toxicity and thus, promoting a beneficial use of the marine resources.
NanoReproTox will study 2 degrees of biological complexity: first, by performing ex-vivo exposures of gametes, simulating the effect of NP at the fertilization moment, and then increasing the biological complexity by doing in-vivo assays evaluating the influence of NP chronic exposures during gametogenesis and gonadal maturation. This will be assessed by a series of sub-lethal effects going from molecular (DNA integrity, oxidative stress, bioenergetics and biochemical composition) to sub-individual/individual effects (sperm quality, histopathologies) in both phases.
NanoReproTox will adopt an interdisciplinary tactic, gathering a scientific team with expertise in fish physiology, bioenergetics, toxicology, biochemistry and environmental science. The CESAM team is expert in aquatic toxicology, mostly on the effects of contaminants in aquatic species. The CCMAR team is expert in reproductive biotechnology of fish and gametes quality. MARE team is expert in toxicopathology, molecular and histopathological biomarkers.
NanoReproTox is well aligned with both national and regional RIS3 goals related with the evaluation, monitoring and protection of the marine ecosystem, preserving the biodiversity and species sustainability. Increasing knowledge on nanoreprotoxicity in the endogenous resources will allow recognizing potential environmental hazards and balancing risk-benefits of the application of nanotechnology to aquaculture. This new knowledge will provide basal information that may be applied to field scenarios, establishing thresholds for marine water quality criteria (marine life and biological criteria).

CESAM members in the project