Ecophysiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology

News and announcements

Upcoming conference: ESCPB 2021

Submitted by Dries Knapen on Wed, 2021-08-13 17:18.
EB&T will attend the 25th conference of the European Society for Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology (September 7-11 2021) in Ravenna, Italy.

EB&T scientists presenting are Prof. Dr. Ronny Blust (platform), Prof. Dr. Gudrun De Boeck (platform), Dr. Dries Knapen (platform) and Dr. Johan Robbens (poster).

Upcoming conference: SETAC North America 2021

Submitted by Niko Celis on Wed, 2021-08-13 12:38.
EB&T will be attending the 2021 SETAC North America meeting in Tampa, Florida. More information on the congress can be found here
Attending members are:

Prof. Dr. Ronny Blust
Presentation title: 'Metal availability and toxicity to aquatic organisms across freshwater saltwater gradients'

Dr. Dries Knapen
Presentation title: 'Experimental design in microarray analysis: examples and best practices'
17th November, morning session in Room 15/16

Niko Celis
Presentation title: 'Can metal uptake be fully predicted by free ion based models? A case study for Cd, Cs, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn in a fresh- and saltwater fish species.'
19th November, morning session in Ballroom A

Liesbeth Weijs

Nathalie Dom

Open PhD position: development of fast biosensors for detection of food and feed contaminants

Submitted by Niko Celis on Mon, 2021-08-11 01:18.
The project is evaluating biosensors as a fast screening tool for monitoring/screening of contaminants (mycotoxins) in food and feed. Aptamers and Mips (Moleculary Imprinted Polymers) can be considered as an alternative of antibodies, with several advantages compared with the latest (animal friendly, adaptable, cheap…). Aptamers will be selected and characterized by analytical methods (SPR, QCM). These fast screening test will be developed based on lateral diffusion methodology (dipstick) and are based on newly developed nanoparticels. A further development towards more complicated Biomems biosensors is a possibility. This multi-disciplinary project involves aspects of biotechnology, molecular biology, chemistry , surface chemistry.
The project can be seen in the view of the high need of fast and payable alternatives for chemical analytical tools.

The project involves:

Full PhD grant (a one year proof period, that can be extended for the full PhD period).

A diploma as Master in Biology, Chemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Biological Engineer, Civil engineer, Pharmacist, Veterinarian sciences or any other relevant field

Information and application
Applications are open to 1st class students worldwide.
Start of the project is November 2021

Projects can be adjusted towards the personal interest of motivated candidates. Therefore we also encourage people to submit their CV for the open positions below or for a ‘personal’ topic within the expertise areas of the lab.

For further information and application, please send your CV with a letter to express your interest and three references to Johan Robbens PhD MBA by email

About Antwerp

Antwerp is the real urban deal, a refreshingly down-to-earth yet vivacious cosmopolitan habitat blessed with magnificent architecture, fashionable shop fronts, beer-washed pubs, dazzling monuments, jazzed-up clubs, inspired artworks and restaurant tables piled with plates of superb Belgian and multicultural food. Antwerp, home of the Flemish Baroque master Rubens, not only has a wealth of outstanding museums, picturesque galleries, sculpted streets and beautiful architecture, but is also laced with refreshing greenery and urban haunts. Its culture, history, vibrant nightlife and world class shopping are within easy reach, thanks to excellent access by air, train, motorway and even water.

As a fashion city Antwerp owes its reputation to the pioneers of the fashion movement, the so-called 'Antwerp Six': Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee travelled to London and Paris together in the Eighties as well as Martin Margiela (the seventh). Together they conquered the fashion world with their very distinct vision of fashion.

Antwerp World Diamond Centre is not just a slogan. “Antwerp quality” and “Antwerp cut” are international trade terms synonymous with perfect processing and flawless beauty. Antwerp has a long and magnificent tradition as a diamond city. Since the 15th Century the city has played an important role in the diamond trade and industry.
Some 1,500 diamond companies are concentrated in the city centre. In less than one square kilometre, nearby Central Station, more than half of all cut diamonds pass through a network of diamond cutting shops, diamond bourses and selling centres. Of the 25 diamond exchanges worldwide, 4 operate in Antwerp. Elegant showrooms offer the visitor fascinating tours and the opportunity to visit interesting exhibitions

Antwerp is a pocketsize metropolis.
Antwerp is situated less than one (or two) hour away from Amsterdam, Paris, London, Brussels…

Upcoming congress: Fluorinated surfactants - new developments

Submitted by Niko Celis on Mon, 2021-06-16 08:50.
Several EB&T members will be attending the 1st international workshop on fluorinated surfactants in Idstein, Germany from June 26 till June 28 2021. For more information visit the congress' website (link). Members presenting their research are:

Upcoming conference: SETAC Warsaw 2021

Submitted by Niko Celis on Mon, 2021-04-28 19:45.
Several members of our lab are attending the SETAC meeting in Warsaw Poland from 25th to 29th May 2021. The conference will be held at the Palace of Culture and Science congress centre and will focus on scientific and applied issues of different stressors in present World. You can find the link to the event's website here. Attending EB&T members are:

Lieven Bervoets with:
A platform presentation entitled:
'Effect of energy status on accumulation, sub-cellular metal distribution and toxicity in zebra mussels translocated to a metal pollution gradient'

A poster entitled:
'Influence of acid volatile sulfides (AVS) on the bioavailability of sediment-bound metals to benthic macro-invertebrates'

Tine Vandenbrouck with:
A platform presentation entitled:
'Nickel and binary metal mixture responses in Daphnia magna: molecular fingerprints and (sub)organismal responses'

Ingrid Nobels with:
A platform presentation entitled:
'Can bacterial gene profiling assays provide ecotoxicological relevant information? A comparison with results from higher levels of biological organization'

Thesis and project students 2020/2021

Name Major Supervisors Project title
Iris Buermans Industrial Engineer (Karel de Grote-Hogeschool, Antwerp) Johan Robbens & An Jamers The use of algae for biodiesel production
Wannes Minne N/A (Karel de Grote-Hogeschool, Antwerp) Walter Mertens (Kdg), Lieven Bervoets & Maarten De Jonge Acid volatile sulfids (AVS) and metal bioavailability
Tim Lieben Master in Environmental science (UA, Antwerp) Ronny Blust & Lieven Bervoets Ecotoxicological aspects of the Reach guideline
Amit Kumhar Sinha Master in Aquaculture (UGhent, Ghent) Peter Bossiers (UGhent), Gudrun De Boeck & Prabesh Kunwar Effect of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) on growth performance of seabass fry
Carlo Ludecke Biology (UA, Antwerp) Dries Knapen The molecular mechanism of para-acetylaminofenol (paracetamol) and acetylsalicylate (aspirine): transcriptomics in zebrafish
Nathalie Adam Biology (UA, Antwerp) Dries Knapen Development of a microarray platform for the automated determination of the Belgian Biotic Index: the BBI-chip
Sophie Gryseels Biology (UA, Antwerp) Dries Knapen Effect of environmental remediation on the genetic variation of naturally occuring gudgeon populations in the basin of the Grote Nete: a microsatellite study
Kristiina Haapanen N/A (Turku University, Finland) Wim De Coen & Johan Meyer PFOS in ecological and food samples
Dieter Sysmans Lab technician (Platijn Hogeschool, Antwerp) An Jamers Nanoparticle toxicity testing on algae
Jelle Backeljau N/A (Platijn Hogeschool, Antwerp) Bieke Van Dorst Screening of phages with affinity for 17beta estradiol


Our research is categorized into different subjects

Keyword cloud describing the focus of our research

ecotoxicology | daphnia magna | apodemus sylvaticus | zebrafish | brominated flame retardants | danio rerio | biosensor | cyprinus carpio | feed | food | microsatellites | energy metabolism | macroinvertebrate community | routes | erinaceus europaeus | uptake | proteomics | proteome | toxicogenomics | organochlorines | gene expression | metal exposure | exposure routes | genome | metals | gudgeon | e. coli | bioavailability | species identification | copper | suppression subtractive hybridization | hair | carp | microarrays | algae | stress gene | mixture | littorina littorea | exposure | cadmium | in vitro screening | osmoregulation | soil | pharmaceuticals | hedgehog | gene profiling | endocrine disruption | hormones | microarray | genetic adaptation | wood mouse | metallothionein | biodiversity | wildlife toxicology | allozymes | sea bass | perfluorinated organic compounds | tissue culture | molecular mechanisms | spines

Members of our lab

Research group leader, Professor, Research Manager, Post-doc fellow, PhD student, Technical staff

Amit Kumar Sinha's picture
Amit Kumar Sinha
PhD student
An Hagenaars's picture
An Hagenaars
PhD student
An Jamers's picture
An Jamers
PhD student
Andrea Vlaeminck's picture
Andrea Vlaeminck
Technical staff
Bieke Van Dorst's picture
Bieke Van Dorst
PhD student
Bo Van den Bril's picture
Bo Van den Bril
PhD student
Caroline Vanparys's picture
Caroline Vanparys
PhD student
Diane Van Strydonck's picture
Diane Van Strydonck
Donald Benoot's picture
Donald Benoot
PhD student
Dorien Keil's picture
Dorien Keil
PhD student
Dries Knapen's picture
Dries Knapen
Post-doc fellow
Ellen Gerard's picture
Ellen Gerard
Elsa Rouah-Martin
Femke De Croock's picture
Femke De Croock
Technical staff
Frouke Vermeulen's picture
Frouke Vermeulen
PhD student
Gudrun De Boeck's picture
Gudrun De Boeck
Heidi Van den Broeck's picture
Heidi Van den Broeck
PhD student
Ingrid Nobels's picture
Ingrid Nobels
PhD student
Irina Komjarova's picture
Irina Komjarova
PhD student
Isabelle Lardon's picture
Isabelle Lardon
PhD student
Johan Meyer's picture
Johan Meyer
PhD student
Johan Robbens's picture
Johan Robbens
Research Manager
Julide Altuntas's picture
Julide Altuntas
PhD student
Karin Van den Bergh's picture
Karin Van den Bergh
Technical staff
Karlijn van der Ven's picture
Karlijn van der Ven
Post-doc fellow
Kris Flothmann's picture
Kris Flothmann
Technical staff
Liesbeth Weijs's picture
Liesbeth Weijs
PhD student
Lieven Bervoets's picture
Lieven Bervoets
Lucia Vergauwen's picture
Lucia Vergauwen
PhD student
Maarten De Jonge's picture
Maarten De Jonge
PhD student
Marijke De Wit's picture
Marijke De Wit
PhD student
Marleen Eyckmans's picture
Marleen Eyckmans
PhD student
Melissa Pennick
Melody Van den Acker's picture
Melody Van den Acker
PhD student
Nander Van Praet
PhD student
Nathalie Dom's picture
Nathalie Dom
PhD student
Nemo Maes's picture
Nemo Maes
Technical staff
Niko Celis's picture
Niko Celis
PhD student
Oliver Van Damme's picture
Oliver Van Damme
Technical staff
Prabesh Kunwar's picture
Prabesh Kunwar
PhD student
Ronny Blust's picture
Ronny Blust
Research group leader
Rosa Hermans's picture
Rosa Hermans
Technical staff
Saskia Roggeman's picture
Saskia Roggeman
PhD student
Sophie Gombeer's picture
Sophie Gombeer
PhD student
Steven Joosen's picture
Steven Joosen
Technical staff
Tine Hectors's picture
Tine Hectors
PhD student
Tine Vandenbrouck's picture
Tine Vandenbrouck
PhD student
Valentine Mubiana's picture
Valentine Mubiana
Technical staff
Wendy D'Hollander's picture
Wendy D'Hollander
PhD student
Wim De Coen's picture
Wim De Coen
Wim De Schepper's picture
Wim De Schepper
PhD student


Coulter Counter

The most versatile and accurate particle sizing and counting analyzer available today. Using The Coulter Principle, also known as ESZ (Electrical Sensing Zone Method), the Multisizer 3 Coulter Counter provides number, volume, mass and surface area size distributions in one measurement, with an overall sizing range of 0.4 µm to 1,200 µm. Its response is unaffected by particle color, shape, composition or refractive index. The Coulter Principle is the absolute leading technology in high resolution and accuracy and it is further enhanced in the Multisizer 3 by using a Digital Pulse Processor (DPP). You will get the ultra-high resolution, multiple channel analysis and accuracy not provided by any other technology. It all makes the Multisizer 3 indispensable for any industrial or life science research project involving sizing and/or counting. Equally a powerful tool for quality control, it provides the analyst with a system which is easy to use, yet so technologically advanced that it is able to solve most particle sizing problems.

Particles suspended in a weak electrolyte solution are drawn through a small aperture, separating two electrodes between which an electric current flows. The voltage applied across the aperture creates a "sensing zone". As particles pass through the aperture (or "sensing zone"), they displace their own volume of electrolyte, momentarily increasing the impedance of the aperture.
This change in impedance produces a pulse that is digitally processed in real time. The Coulter Principle states that the pulse is directly proportional to the tri-dimensional volume of the particle that produced it. Analyzing these pulses enables a size distribution to be acquired and displayed in volume (µm3 or fL) and diameter (µm). In addition, a metering device is used to draw a known volume of the particle suspension through the aperture; a count of the number of pulses can then yield the concentration of particles in the sample.

Climate chamber array

The EB&T research group has an array of 6 climate rooms in which temperature and light cycle can be adjusted to the prefered test conditions and/or test organism. All rooms have recently been upgraded with new control units and cooling and heating systems. The flexible infrastructure of these climate rooms allows us to perform scientific research on a wide variety of test organisms such as fresh and marine species of algae, invertebrates (Daphnia, Artemia,...) and fish (Carp, Zebrafish, Sea bass, ...).

Flow Through system

In traditional Flow-through Aquaculture Systems, water is passed through the culture system only once and is then discharged back to the aquatic environment. The flow of water through the culture system supplies oxygen to the fish and carries dissolved and suspended wastes out of the system. Water quality within the culture system is maintained by flushing of contaminants and by replacing all system water before dissolved oxygen concentrations drop below minimum acceptable limits or contaminate concentrations (i.e. ammonia, solids, and carbon dioxide) can accumulate to above maximum acceptable limits. Flow through systems are where fish are held in ponds, tanks, raceways or other specially designed apparatus which have water constantly passing through them. These systems can be used to grow or expose either fresh or marine species.

Intensive and semi-intensive flow through culture systems are those where fish are stocked at high densities and are fed on artificial diets. Appropriate stocking densities will depend on the species stocked and prevailing environmental conditions. These systems generally require large quantities of water to allow high stocking densities without water becoming degraded through the system.

Flow through systems may be either gravity feed or use pumps to supply their water. The advantage of gravity fed systems are that there are no pumping costs involved.

The main goal of a Flow Through system connected to a peristaltic pump, is to obtain a constant concentration of an element in your exposuretanks.
You always start from a stocksolution. Attached ( and in) this stocksolution, tubings are connected with a peristaltic pump. This pump pumps your stocksolution through tubings into your exposure tanks at a certain flow rate. In your tank you'd have to provide a continous flow through, through your system, to keep the same concentration of your stocksolution at any time during exposure. From your exposuretank, you'd have to make a connection with your drainnigsystem, to prevent water rising above the top of the tank.

Metal measurements

The lab is equipped with a number of different spectroscopy applications for determining metal concentrations in a wide variety of samples including water, soil and organic content. Total and dissolved concentrations can be measured with Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (GFAAS), Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (FAAS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES). Our latest acquisition is a quadrupole Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) with autosampler (Varian, Palo Alto, USA) which allows the direct detection of different isotopes from the same element (e.g. for Cu: Cu-63 and Cu-65). This technique of isotope discrimination is currently being implemented as an alternative to radio-active labeled tracer studies.