Biomonitoring of Organic and Inorganic Pollutants

 / Research / In-House /CIA/ Biomonitoring of Organic and Inorganic Pollutants

The Project

Rapid population growth, over-exploitation of resources and increased pollution load has altered the structure of the food web in coastal ecosystems. Investigations into coastal pollutants reveal that toxicants are derived from a variety of natural and anthropogenic sources and they can damage biodiversity, ecosystems and human life. Major pollutants include toxic chemicals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), harmful toxins from algae, bacteria and viruses, and more recently, emerging pollutants such as nano-plastics, micro-beads, Per-Fluorinated Compounds (PFC) and Pharmaceutical-Personal Care Products (PPCP).

Evaluation of ecosystem quality by using biomarkers stands as a fundamental approach in the assessment of impacts on ecosystem health and allows for the early detection of biological changes due to exposure to chemical pollutants.

Biomonitoring of Coastal Ecosystems

Biomonitoring studies of the coastal environment will evaluate the ecological risk and risk to human health through a combination of field studies in assessments in laboratory, on naturally occurring species and communities. Biomonitoring allows the early detection of biological changes due to exposure to hazardous pollutants that result in long-term physiological disturbances. A three-step procedure would be adopted in this study:

  1. Hazard Identification,
  2. Dose-Response (Exposure) Assessment and
  3. Risk Control/Characterization


This study aims at using an integrated framework for ecotoxicological risk assessment and risk management to examine the impact of emerging pollutants on select estuarine ecosystems of India’s coast. The study has four objectives which are described in the following section.


  • Environmental monitoring of emerging toxic pollutants (e.g. nano plastics/micro plastics, phthalates, algal toxins and PPCPs), in major estuarine ecosystems of India

  • In-vivo toxicity assessment of emerging toxic pollutants on selected coastal/ marine organisms

  • Determining direct and indirect effects of climatic stressors on plankton

  • Ecotoxicological risk assessment and risk management

Key Findings

Assessment of metal contamination

Mean accumulation pattern of metals in Perna viridis was found to be in the following order Zn > Cu > Ni > Cr > Pb > Cd, which mimic the metal concentration in seawater. Ambient metal concentration and behavior of multiple biomarkers correlated positively indicating that the uptake of metals might induce biological changes, particularly in the internal organs, thus significantly affecting health of the aquatic organisms.

Accumulation of metals, in the soft tissues of mussel collected from Ennore, Kovalam and Puducherry coast

Microbial Consortium for hydrocarbon degradation

Monitoring microbial diversity and functionality enabled in better understanding in degradation processes and identification of solutions for hydrocarbon contamination in marine habitats. Simultaneous analysis of sediment and water in the study provided explicit evidences on existence of differential microbial community dynamics, offering insight into possibilities of formulating nature identical solutions for hydrocarbon pollution.

Phylogenetic map of microbial diversity from hydrocarbon contaminated samples