This network implements the National Institute of Aquatic Toxicology (INCT-TA), which was proposed as established by the announcement 15/2008 – MCT/CNPq/FNDCT/CAPES/FAPEMIG/FAPERJ/FAPESP – National Institutes of Science and Technology.

INCT-TA has a well-defined program with qualitative and quantitative goals, integrating four missions: research, training, knowledge transference to society and know-how to government. This program aims to establish public politics on environmental preservation.

The Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG) is the INCT-TA headquarter. The Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), State University of Londrina (UEL), Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCAR) and Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) are INCT-TA partners. The headquarter is characterized by its excellence in scientific and technological development, high quality training program, capacity to attract funds from different financial agencies and its modern infrastructure to develop activities in the field of water resources conservation (freshwater and seawater). Partners also show a similar profile, having their academic activities focused on areas converging to the main subject of the Institute. Therefore, the Institute consolidation will bring an inestimable benefit to the scientific community and the Brazilian society since activities developed by the different partners complement each other harmonically and spontaneously. This have increased the potential to generate and diffuse forefront knowledge, as well as the capacity of the training program in the central theme of the Institute.



Potential sources of water pollution


Aquatic Toxicology is the central theme of the Institute. The INCT-TA is focused on the use of chemical and biological tools, as well as ecotoxicological modeling. It develops and applies biomarkers of water resources contamination with chemical compounds from the different human activities, such as agriculture, animal production, fishing, aquaculture, industry, harbors, and vegetal and mineral exploitation. Furthermore, the Institute is devoted to the environmental pollution and health threats caused by urban and domestic sewages. The network team is expecting that conditions can be established favoring the Institute implementation, consolidation, and perpetuation for our well being and next generations.

The INCT-TA research program performs an integrated evaluation of a large number of morphological, biochemical, physiological, genetic, immunological and behavioral biomarkers. Actions performed aims to identify, calibrate and apply the most adequate, practical and less costing biomarkers in the scope of the development of public politics concerning the environmental quality monitoring, water resources conservation and the establishment of water quality criteria for preservation of aquatic life.

Biomarkers employed in the scope of INCT-TA program include classical ones such as morphological and cellular alterations in fish gill and liver (morphological biomarkers), measurement of activities of acetylcholinesterase, Na+,K+-ATPase, EROD and enzymes associated with the antioxidant defense system (biochemical biomarkers), lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation and total oxyradical scavenging capacity (biochemical biomarkers), oxygen consumption, metallothionein synthesis, ionic and osmotic imbalance (physiological biomarkers), phagocyte capacity (immunological biomarker), and DNA damage measured through Comet assay and micronucleated cells (genetic biomarkers). In addition to the classical biomarkers, the INCT-TA research program develops and applies biomarkers recently described in the literature or that are still in development. Among these biomarkers, we can mention the analysis of metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and alquilphenols in the fish bile (biomarkers of xenobiotic metabolism), lipofuscin deposition in tissues (physiological biomarker), respiratory burst (immunological biomarker) and quantification of gene expression related to the enzymatic antioxidant defense system, xenobiotic detoxification and DNA repair (genetic biomarkers). It is also important to note that the INCT-TA develops integrated studies of these biomarkers with those related to behavioral biomarkers. The last ones are ideal to study the biological effects of pollutants as they are a link between the physiological and the ecological process.

The INCT-TA research program is characterized by the development of forefront scientific studies and the application of modern technologies to evaluate the environmental quality and health of aquatic life. Results from the activities developed in the scope of INCT-TA will indubitably bring a marked scientific and technological advancement for our country in Aquatic Toxicology. Furthermore, they will place Brazil in a forefront position regarding the application of contamination biomarkers to establish public politics on the monitoring of water resources and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.