Department of Experimental Phycology and Ecotoxicology
The department is nowadays located in Lidická street 25/27, Brno, Czech Republic, in the building of Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Horticulture (Výzkumný ústav Silva Taroucy pro krajinu a okrasné zahradnictví v.v.i., VÚKOZ).
Research activities of the department were, and currently still are, focused on studies on photoautotrophic organisms in the aquatic phytoplankton of phytobenthos communities. Because of the ecotoxicological orientation, the greatest attention has been devoted to species capable to form so-called water blooms, especially cyanobacteria and their abnormal occurrence in water which is a serious problem in relation to water quality due to production of many toxic compounds. Big part of this research has been performed in cooperation with Research Centre for Toxic Compounds in the Environment (RECETOX) at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. This cooperation has been established in the 1990th and was connected even with the foundation of Flos Aquae association, a platform for public education and popularization of topics dealing with cyanobacteria and fight against water blooms. Workers of the department and of the other two mentioned companies then joined into a Centre for cyanobacteria and their toxins (CCT).
Activities of our department consists of at least two key areas: scientific research and popularization of sciencific work for public. Workers of the dep. participate in campaigns not only for pupils and students from basic, secondary and high schools, but also for wide audience both lay and professional where the aim is to present current scientific knowledge in water ecology (water flora, algae and cyanobacteria, water pollution, water decontamination etc.). Presented results and knowledge come out from topics of our own research performed at our department.
Water blooms research
The research is mainly aimed at finding of new methods usable for the restriction of mass cyanobacterial development in fresh waters. For this purpose characteristics of various chemicals – potential algicides or algistatics (e.g. phthalocyanines, hydrogen peroxide) as well as certain non-chemical methods for the treatment of sediments or water column (aeration, cavitation) or possibilities of using herbivorous fish species have been investigated. In addition to directly acting algicides, substances reducing bioavailable phosphorus and other nutrient concentrations (i.e. coagulants, flocculants and adsorbents) have been also studied. Considering a safety of usage, various ecotoxicological biotests have been performed and effects of potential algicides have been observed in target (cyanobacteria, algae) as well as non-target (higher plants, Daphnia) organisms.
Another research interest of the Department of Experimental Phycology and Ecotoxicology is cyanobacterial autecology (mainly of the most common European genus Microcystis), especially cyanobacterial overwintering and the role of cyanotoxins in living strategy of cyanobacteria.
Last but not least, effects of most important cyanotoxins on living organisms have been investigated. In several experimental organisms (e.g. Japanese quail – Coturnix coturnix japonica or African clawed frog – Xenopus laevis), reproductive toxicity and other effects have been studied. At the same time methods for the detection of cyanotoxins in samples from the aquatic environment and in fish tissues have been found and improved.