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The Use of Biofilms to Assess the Effects of Chemicals on Freshwater Ecosystems

Chapter in book
Authors Helena Guasch
Joan Artigas
Berta Bonet
Chloé Bonnineau
Oriol Canals
Natàlia Corcoll
Arnaud Foulquier
Julio López-Doval
Sandra Kim-Tiam
Soizic Morin
Enrique Navarro
Stephane Pesce
Lorenzo Proia
Humbert Salvadó
Alexandra Serra
Published in Aquatic Biofilms: Ecology, Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment .Edited by: Anna M. Romaní, Helena Guasch and M. Dolors Balaguer
Pages 126-144
ISBN 978-1-910190-17-3
Publisher Caister Academic Press
Place of publication USA
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 126-144
Language en
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Environmental toxicology, Freshwater ecology


Nowadays, biofilms are one of the principal targets of community ecotoxicology in aquatic ecosystems with a high potential for future use in ecotoxicology. A large set of methods derived from biofilm ecology has successfully been applied in ecotoxicology providing a diverse and comprehensive toolbox. Our ability to quantify the effects of pollution on different biofilm components, allows the direct effects of pollutants on the most sensitive community and their indirect effects on the rest of biofilm components to be evaluated. Biofilms are also a site for biotransfomation and/or transfer of chemicals to other aquatic organisms, supporting a more generalized use of biofilms in environmental chemistry. Investigations aiming to describe processes at biofilm scale, like nutrient dynamics and those including simple food chains, have recently been applied, providing the opportunity of upscaling the effects of pollutants on biofilms to food webs and ecosystems. Finally, biofilm ecotoxicology should now focus on providing the theoretical background for understanding the complex set of responses of natural communities to pollution. This knowledge should also be the basis for guiding the selection of the most appropriate tools and the development of new approaches for a better detection of the impact of pollution on aquatic life.

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