The use of microalgae as model organisms and for application in biotechnology is of great importance due to their advantages for manipulation, of particular relevance in biological studies and environmental impact assessments. For more than 20 years, the members of the MICROALGAE group have been carrying out research in the field of toxicity of various pollutants on the physiology of marine and freshwater microalgae. The pollutants studied have mainly been metals and herbicides.
The group’s main research line at present focuses on the study of the toxic effect on microalgae and cyanobacteria, as well as their stress tolerance mechanisms, of several aquatic chemical pollutants, including emerging micropollutants such as medicines and personal hygiene products.
Our group’s research based on toxicological analyses (using numerous analytical techniques, mainly flow cytometry and capillary electrophoresis) of microalga populations after in vitro exposure to xenobiotics have highlighted their environmental relevance and contributed to the greater esteem of this experimental approach in the field of Ecotoxicology. The methodological approach established, as an essential strategy in basic research to characterize in depth the xenobiotic-cellular interaction, provides information of the greatest relevance with a view to the detection and mechanistic characterization of the effects of xenobiotics on live cells. In addition, the identification, characterization and evaluation of a pollutant’s effects on some of the specific parameters considered should enable the definition, establishment and systematization of specific water pollution markers.