Interplay between microorganisms and contaminants

Moderator : Léa Cabrol


Our goal is to understand the mutual influences between contaminants and marine microorganisms at both the population and molecular levels. Historically, a solid expertise has been acquired in the team regarding organic contaminants (such as hydrocarbons), which has been supplemented in recent years by an expertise on inorganic contaminants such as metallic trace elements.

The studies that have been developed in this area include the following :

  1. Effect of contaminations on biodiversity and microbial community activity
  2. Contribution from these communities to the dynamics and fate of contaminants

Our objects of study are mainly natural ecosystems (coastal environments under anthropic influence) and bioremediation processes, with the aim to reduce the effect of industrial discharges at sea. This topic is closely associated with the cross-disciplinary axis CONTAM of the MIO, which combines chemists, physicists and biologists.


Examples of studies



Figure : Mangrove Ecosystem Guyana (1); monitoring of the biodegradation of a crude oil (2); mesocosm study of the fate of crude oil in brine after 106 days of incubation at in-situ temperature and lighting (3)

We study the degradation and transformation of hydrocarbons in the mangroves of Guyana, considering the network of interactions between micro-, meso- and macro-fauna benthics.

Metals and Metalloids


Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia) and in-vitro experiment of the resuspension of contaminated marine sediments


First, we identify the microorganisms that are responsible for the methylation of mercury, generating a highly toxic compound in various marine environments (Black Sea, Mediterranean, and Pacific). We are also interested in the microorganisms that are involved in the processes of redox states and the mobilization or immobilization of a cocktail of metals in heavily anthropized ecosystems (Toulon harbor). In particular, we evaluate the effect of phosphogypsum releases in the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia) during the resuspension of marine sediments, and we identify the key components that are potentially involved in metal immobilization within the context of possible applications in bioremediation (topic 5). This approach is achieved in partnership with CBS (Sfax, Tunisia) in the framework of LMI COSYSMED.