Ecotoxicology investigates the effects of chemical substances on biological systems such as
plants, animals, bacteria or whole ecosystems. This interdisciplinary research aims at establishing dose-response relationships between the concentration of a specific compound and an observed effect. The knowledge
gained is applied on the one hand to the routine monitoring of ecosystems, on the other hand to the registration of new and evaluation of old chemicals. In our research group special focus in this subject has been
placed upon the diverse effects of the HCH-enantiomers, which show a different capacity to cross the human blood-brain-barrier. Due to this fact, the toxicological impact of each enantiomer must be considered very
carefully. More details can be found on the page about chirality.
Only recently, a book dealing with this very aspects was published: Chiral Environmental Pollutants - Trace Analysis and Ecotoxicology.
At present time, we work on the combination of our
analytical methods with biological testing, the so-called bioassay-directed chemical analysis. So far, this strategy has been applied to water samples from the river Elbe (diploma thesis, Ninja Reineke) and is now extended to sediment samples from the North Sea. We are part of an interdisciplinary project at the University of Hamburg: The project ISIS (Identification
of sediment-bound contaminants: toxicity guided analytic; duration 2000-2002) combines the knowledge of chemistry, biology and toxicology as different institutions in Hamburg take part in this project (see below).
With the applied bioassay-directed fractionation it should be possible to get an insight into
the effects that are caused by harmful substances in a complex environmental compartment. One of the problems to face is the differentiation between the natural effects
of biogenic compounds and those caused by human activities. For more details see here.
The partners of the ISIS-project are as follows: