vercoming barriers in estimating toxicity of arsenic in seaweed
Dr. Ásta Heiðrún Pétursdóttir is the recipient of the Individual fellowship (IF) post-doc grant, she graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, in 2014.
The grant will provide a unique opportunity to establish a new research field of arsenic speciation in food commodities in Iceland. Moreover the project will impact the career development of the experienced researcher who will gain a wide range of scientific and transferable skills that are relevant to establish a long-term independent leading career in the field of science.
There were 8438 proposals for an individual fellowship in 2014 with a success rate of 16.8%.
The ocean covers 71% of the planet and to facilitate future sustainability looking at using the ocean for food, e.g. seaweed, is a stepping stone in this direction. However, seaweed contains high amounts of arsenic, mainly so called arsenosugars but also arsenolipids (AsLp). Recently an in-vitro study on AsLp toxicity showed that the AsLps might be as toxic as the most toxic arsenic, the inorganic arsenic (iAs)1. Today there is a lack of data on AsLps in seaweed products for human consumption. Safety of seaweed must be addressed and more studies and information on AsLps are urgently needed.
Currently, only few research groups worldwide work on AsLps, partly due to difficulties associated with the measurements of these compounds. This project will expand this expertise in Europe by establishing necessary facilities at Matís to accommodate AsLp measurements. The project will be in co-operation with leading experts in AsLp measurements at the Danish Technical University as well as with an experienced analytical team at Arctic Mass, Iceland.
The project will contribute to consumer’s safety by overcoming barriers in estimating toxicity of arsenic species in seaweed.
SilhouetteOfSeaweed will have two main scientific impacts. Firstly, it will produce AsLp seaweed profiles in 4 different species of brown algae in 3 locations during 3 seasons in Iceland. This information will contribute to the necessary risk assessment needed for algae used for human consumption. Secondly, statistical evaluation and comparison of environmental conditions will make it possible to identify whether the seaweed could be harvested at specific conditions where the amount of toxic arsenic is at its lowest. These data are essential for SMEs entering the European market with their seaweed products.
The project will provide valuable contribution to food security and safety.
For additional information please contact dr. Ásta Heiðrún Pétursdóttir at Matís.
1. Meyer, S.; Matissek, M.; Mueller, S. M.; Taleshi, M. S.; Ebert, F.; Francesconi, K. A.; Schwerdtle, T., In vitro toxicological characterisation of three arsenic-containing hydrocarbons. Metallomics 2014, 6, 1023-1033.