Short Description

Fish are a crucial group of organisms that inhabit diverse ecosystems, contributing vital services while being sensitive to various stressors, including chemical pollution. They often bioaccumulate chemicals and are essential in labs for environmental risk assessment. However, laboratory animal testing is ethically contentious, resource-intensive, and a major bottleneck in chemical risk assessment.

In our research on fish and fish cell lines, we have discovered that reduced cell proliferation and/or increased cell death in vitro is associated with inhibited growth after chemical exposure. Conversely, chemical exposure that doesn’t hinder fish growth also doesn’t reduce cell count in vitro. The question remains: how do chemicals with diverse structures and mechanisms of action result in the same outcome – reduced cell population and thus, hindered fish growth?

The ecotoxicology community has yet to find a molecular, mechanistic answer. Our research project aims to uncover the molecular response networks activated in fish cells upon chemical exposure, leading to reduced cell population growth. We will achieve this through cell-based chemical exposure experiments, cutting-edge cellular assays like “cell painting”, genome-wide gene expression measurements, bioinformatics and network-based analyses, and validation of in vitro findings in an in vivo system. This advancement will accelerate and economize chemical risk assessment by decreasing reliance on in vivo animal testing.


Project ID: J4–3097
Duration: 1.12.2022 – 30.11.2025