IRIS is continually working with the development of new technologies for marine surveillance with the focus to produce effective environmental indicators and biosensors.
Microbial organisms in the marine environment rapidly respond to changes in the environment such as exposure to pollution, including hydrocarbon contamination and eutrophication. Few methods exist for routine monitoring of key coastal species. IRIS has been working on several projects focusing on the detection of these key marker species to test and monitor the biodegradation of contaminants in the environment (including oil spill bioremediation in the Arctic, funded by the IOGP). IRIS is also developing methods for in-situ real-time monitoring for hydrocarbon detection. In the GenoMape project a robotized Environmental Sampling Processor will use genosensors for detection of oil microbial bio-indicators in the water column.
JERICO-NEXT (“Joint European Research Infrastructure for Coastal Observatories”) is a Horizon 2020 project for establishing coastal observatory infrastructure in European seas. IRIS’s role as a task leader focuses on the development of microbial markers and biosensors for the detection of key organisms, toxic algae and other toxins, together with the production of models that combine biological and chemical data to assist in monitoring seawater conditions in the coastal environment.
In the iNEXT project, IRIS is leading an international consortium that is developing the next generation of protein based molecular markers that are indicators for environmental impact of petroleum activities. These indicators are in the form of expressed proteins in tissues of fish affected by the presence of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in the marine environment. New potential biological markers for oil pollution related to tracking sources of contamination, are also under evaluation.
Fresh water and terrestrial environments are also a focus of attention for IRIS. Together with local authorities, IRIS researchers are working to assess legionella levels in public buildings and developing novel techniques to achieve this goal. In addition, IRIS together with the inter-municipal company IVAR has been granted regional funding to examine to what extent wastewater treatment systems provide a gateway for microplastics into land based and water based food chains.