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DAAD Project: Metal exposure and associated effects in mussels

An integrated approach - hyphenated analytical techniques and biomarkers (Mexef)

Partner: Institute Ruđer Bošković, Zagreb, Croatia, Division for Marine Environmental Research, Laboratory for Biological Effects of Metals

Duration: 2011

Homepage Institute Ruđer Bošković

Sampling together with Dr. M. Erk (ri) (Photo: Christiane Ruhnau/Hereon)

The implementation strategy for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) envisages the use of biomarker analysis as a complementary method in operational and investigative monitoring. The scientific objectives of the Croatian-German cooperation are to develop a methodology comprising hyphenated analytical techniques and selected biomarkers of exposure and effect concerning metal contamination in mussels in coastal areas.

The study includes the intercomparison of complementary techniques of the two partners and field trials for the developed joint methodologies in the German North Sea and the Adriatic Sea. At the side of the German partner, the outcome of the cooperation will be embedded in an approach encompassing an extended set of biomarkers accompanied by the additional chemical analysis of relevant organic contaminants. The overall aim is to contribute to a biomarker toolbox based on toxicoproteomic principles in order to advance the above mentioned complementary methodologies in the context of the WFD and the European Marine Strategy.

Croatian guests Dr. M. Erk, Z. Strizak (ri) analyzing metall-associated proteins (Photo: Heike Helmholz)

Visit in Croatia - March/April and September

• Joined sampling at exposed and reference stations along the Croatian Adriatic coast
• Exchange of methods for the measurement of physiological parameters in mussels as general stress – biomarker

Guests from Croatia - June and November/December

• Learning and application of methods for multi-element analysis of metal contaminants in mussel tissue
• Application of hyphenated techniques (HPLC-ICP-MS) for the analysis of metallotheionin-pattern as biomarker for metal exposure


  • Publication Strižak Ž, Ivanković D, Pröfrock D, Helmholz H, Cindrić A-M, Erk M, Prange A (2014)Characterization of the cytosolic distribution of priority pollutant metals and metalloids in the digestive gland cytosol of marine mussels: Seasonal and spatial variability. Science of the Total Environment 470-471, 159-170
  • Poster Utilization of Proteomic Techniques for the Identification of Potential Contaminant-related Biomarker - Environmental Proteomics
    Heike Helmholz, Željka Strižak, Christiane Ruhnau, Marijana Erk, Andreas Prange
    Proteomic Forum 2013, Berlin D
  • Poster Metal exposure and associated effects in mussels: An integrated approach – hyphenated analytical techniques and biomarkers
    Heike Helmholz, Marijana Erk, Daniel Pröfrock, Željka Strižak, Dušica Ivanković, Andreas Prange
    6th SETAC world conference 2012, Berlin, D
  • Poster Cytosolic Metal Profile from Digestive Gland of Mediterranean Mussels as a Potential Indicator of Metal Exposure
    Ž. Strižak, D. Pröfrock, D. Ivanković, Z. Dragun, H. Helmholz, M. Erk, A. Prange
    ECSA (Estuarine and Shelf Science ) conference 2012, Venedig,I