metal speciation dynamics; bioavailability; toxicity; solar radiation; combined stress; dissolved organic matter
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The interactions of climate variability and the changes in the surface radiation are anticipated to affect the aquatic biogeochemical cycles and thus to increase the uncertainty in predicting environmental risks associated with chemical pollution. Therefore the understanding of the underlying mechanisms that govern the contaminant (e.g. toxic metal) interactions with different biotic and abiotic components in changing environment is of crucial importance for development of the predictive models for environmental risk assessment and sustainable water quality in 21st century. The present project focuses on the metal bioavailability as a mechanistic concept allowing to quantitatively linking the physical and chemical processes in the medium surrounding biota to the induced biological effects. A unique array of novel and powerful technologies will be used to determine how the interacting effects of toxic metals, increased solar radiation and dissolved organic matter (DOM) alterations will impact the photosynthetic organisms in surface waters. The photosynthetic organisms are major players in the surface water primary productivity and represent the basis of the aquatic food chain. The following key questions will be addressed: (i) To what extent increased solar radiation affect the kinetic and size speciation of metal - DOM complexes of red-ox sensitive and insensitive metals?; (ii) How does the combination of enhanced solar radiation and DOM - alteration affect metal bioavailability?; (iii) What would be consequences for the photosynthetic organisms in the surface waters? Laboratory work investigating the impact of solar radiation on metal bioavailability and effect on phytoplankton and macrophyte will provide useful insights at a mechanistic level; the proposed small scale simulations in a microcosm will increase our understanding of complex parameters controlling bioavailability and its effect photosynthetic organisms in freshwaters. The project outcomes are expected to contribute significantly in the filling of the existing gaps in the knowledge and reducing the uncertainty, concerning the combined action of chemical and other environmental stressors on the two major groups of the aquatic primary producers.