Biotechnological Hub of the NIB (BTH-NIB)

The purpose of the investment project BTH-NIB is the assurance of the appropriate infrastructural conditions for the use of research and developmental opportunities in the fields of operation of the NIB.

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Identifying the genetic determinants of chemical toxicity in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Project coordinator: dr. Anže Županič

Coordinator for NIB: doc. dr. Tina Eleršek

Code: J4–2550

Duration: 1. 9. 2020 - 31. 8. 2023

Today chemical safety is guaranteed by animal (and plant) testing, which is slow and ethically concerning. To get safer chemicals to the market faster, new chemical safety testing methods, which will be based on molecular toxicity biomarkers (such as vitellogenin for endocrine disruption) and performed on single-celled organisms and cell lines, are needed. Currently, the development of new testing methods is limited by our lack of understanding of the molecular targets of the vast majority of chemicals. In this project, we are developing a new method for the identification of the molecular mechanisms of toxicity in the single-cell green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The methods is based on a collection of strains of the alga, with single deactivated genes. The collection will be exposed to different chemicals of environmental concern and the fitness of the different strains will be followed. We will identify the molecular targets of the chemicals from the strains with a growth advantage (compared to the other strains) and the molecular mechanisms of resistance to chemicals from the strains with a growth disadvantage. The short-term results of the project will be new molecular understanding of chemical effects on algae, while the long-term impact will be the acceleration of the development of new chemical safety testing methods and a generally safer environment.