EU network of mesocosms facilities for research on marine and freshwater ecosystems open for global collaboration.

CRETACOSMOS

Drug or bug? Effects of aquaculture antibiotics on the marine plankton food web (AQUAdrugs)

Project leader:

Dr Paraskevi Pitta

Research Director

Institute of Oceanography, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR)

Timing: 24 May- 20 June 2021 (relatively flexible, final dates to be decided based on participants’ availability)

Location: CretaCosmos Mesocosm Facility

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) in Crete

https://www.aquacosm.eu/mesocosm/cretacosmos/

https://www.google.com/maps/@35.3330391,25.2823767,648m/data=!3m1!1e3

Contact persons:

Dr Paraskevi Pitta

Email: vpitta@hcmr.gr

Mr Iordanis Magiopoulos

Email: iordanis@hcmr.gr

Experiment aim:

To study the effects of aquaculture antibiotics on whole marine planktonic communities (from viruses to copepods) in close-to-real and controlled mesocosm facilities.

Short description:

Since 2014, aquaculture has become the major source of fish for nutrition, accounting for 44% of the global fish production, with clear increasing trends over the years (FAO 2016). Such intensive production often demands the extensive use of various chemical compounds such as formulated feeds, disinfectants, pesticides, antibiotics, etc in order to prevent disease outbreaks due to viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. In aquaculture, antibiotics are provided to the fish orally with feed and as a result they can end up in the environment. Several recent reports have shown that more than 70% of the fish farming-related antibacterials diffuse into the environment (Lulijwa et al. 2019).

Florfenicol (FFC) is one of the three most common antibiotics in use by the marine aquaculture industry during the last decade (Lulijwa et al. 2019), due to its high efficacy in controlling fish infections (Samuelsen and Bergh 2004). As a result of the heavy use of this antibiotic in aquaculture, high levels of florfenicol are released in the aquatic environment and have been detected in the water column around aquaculture farms (Zong et al. 2010). This raises concerns regarding the effects of FFC on non-target organisms and in the aquatic ecosystem in general.

Several reports have shown that FFC affects various aquatic organisms, like microalgal species (Lai et al. 2009, Zhang et al. 2020), swimming crab (Ren et al. 2017), bivalves (Guilhermino et al. 2018), crustaceans (Zhang et al. 2019), etc. Experiments in tanks, microcosms and biofilm reactors have shown that additions of real-life doses of FFC decrease the bacterial diversity in the water column (Zeng et al. 2019) and the structural diversity in sediment microflora (Sun et al. 2012), and negatively affect microbial activity (Gao et al. 2018). Furthermore, there are strong indications from both experiments and field observations that the use of FFC has the potential to select for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in marine sediments (Buschmann et al. 2012) and promote the intra-population transfer of antimicrobial-resistant genes in the water column, resulting in the development of persistence and spread of resistance genes in the environment (Zeng et al. 2019).

Despite the heavy use of FFC in aquaculture and the number of studies on its effects on non-target organisms, information on the ecological and environmental consequences of FFC use is still scarce (Miranda et al. 2018).

In this planned mesocosm experiment, we will try to assess the effects of a real-life addition of FFC on the whole plankton community (from viruses to copepods) at the ultra oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean Sea, including effects on diversity, activity and interactions (depending on the participants’ expertise and interests).

Experimental Setup:

For this experiment, 6 mesocosms of 3 m3 will be used. In 3 of them, FFC will be added (the dose and the addition frequency are under discussion) and the other 3 mesocosms will serve as control. The mesocosms will be filled with water collected directly from the Sea (Cretan Sea), however addition of aquaculture wastewaters is possible. The experiment will last for at least 14 days (an extension is possible); a preparation and after-work periods are also included extending the duration to approximately 4 weeks. All participants are expected to participate during the entire period.

Antibiotic: The initial plan is to add FFC. However, other antibiotics could be considered

Parameters to be measured by HCMR (but happy to collaborate with YOU also!):

Nutrient concentration

Chla concentration

FFC concentration

Microbial abundance (from viruses to microplankton) via flow cytometry and microscopy

Microbial diversity (16S and 18S? – under discussion)

Microbial viability (mainly general assays in flow cytometry)

Bacterial cultures

Bacteriophage isolation

What we look for (extra assays that YOU could do):

Microbial activity (e.g. bacterial production, primary production)

Mesozooplankton analysis (abundance, diversity, production, grazing, physiological/stress assays)

Ecotoxicology assays

Viability sequencing

Antibiotic gene transfer – increase of resilience in the population

Viral diversity/production – assess the role/potential of viruses to control the antibiotic-resistant bacteria population

Other?

What we offer:

The experiment will be funded by AQUACOSM Transnational Access scheme (www.aquacosm.eu)

We can cover:

  • The cost of the experimental setup (mesocosms, water transfer, running costs of the facility, access to labs, etc)
  • Participant Air Tickets (one return ticket per person)
  • Accommodation (either single or double rooms)
  • Meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and a coffee break)
  • Transportation of samples (if needed)
  • Some consumables (e.g. toxic substances not easy to transport)

Application procedure:

The participants will apply through the AQUACOSM TA portal either as individuals (experts or students-trainees) or as a group (one application filled by the group leader). An external User Selection Panel will review the application.

References

Buschmann, A. H., A. Tomova, A. Lopez, M. A. Maldonado, L. A. Henriquez, L. Ivanova, F. Moy, H. P. Godfrey, and F. C. Cabello. 2012. Salmon Aquaculture and Antimicrobial Resistance in the Marine Environment. PLoS ONE 7.

Gao, F., Z. W. Li, Q. B. Chang, M. C. Gao, Z. L. She, J. Wu, C. J. Jin, D. Zheng, L. Guo, Y. G. Zhao, and S. Wang. 2018. Effect of florfenicol on performance and microbial community of a sequencing batch biofilm reactor treating mariculture wastewater. Environmental Technology 39:363-372.

Guilhermino, L., L. R. Vieira, D. Ribeiro, A. S. Tavares, V. Cardoso, A. Alves, and J. M. Almeida. 2018. Uptake and effects of the antimicrobial florfenicol, microplastics and their mixtures on freshwater exotic invasive bivalve Corbicula fluminea. Science of the Total Environment 622:1131-1142.

Lai, H. T., J. H. Hou, C. I. Su, and C. L. Chen. 2009. Effects of chloramphenicol, florfenicol, and thiamphenicol on growth of algae Chlorella pyrenoidosa, Isochrysis galbana, and Tetraselmis chui. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 72:329-334.

Lulijwa, R., E. J. Rupia, and A. C. Alfaro. 2019. Antibiotic use in aquaculture, policies and regulation, health and environmental risks: a review of the top 15 major producers. Reviews in Aquaculture n/a.

Miranda, C. D., F. A. Godoy, and M. R. Lee. 2018. Current Status of the Use of Antibiotics and the Antimicrobial Resistance in the Chilean Salmon Farms. Front Microbiol 9.

Ren, X. Y., Z. Q. Wang, B. Q. Gao, P. Liu, and J. Li. 2017. Effects of florfenicol on the antioxidant status, detoxification system and biomolecule damage in the swimming crab (Portunus trituberculatus). Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 143:6-11.

Samuelsen, O. B., and O. Bergh. 2004. Efficacy of orally administered florfenicol and oxolinic acid for the treatment of vibriosis in cod (Gadus morhua). Aquaculture 235:27-35.

Sun, Y. X., Z. Q. Dai, W. G. Xiong, X. L. Luo, and M. J. Zou. 2012. Fate of Florfenicol in a Simulated Aquatic Ecosystem and Effects on Sediment Microflora. Water Environment Research 84:2054-2059.

Zeng, Q. F., C. Liao, J. Terhune, and L. X. Wang. 2019. Impacts of florfenicol on the microbiota landscape and resistome as revealed by metagenomic analysis. Microbiome 7.

Zhang, Y. Q., X. Y. Zhang, R. Guo, Q. Zhang, X. P. Cao, M. Suranjana, and Y. Liu. 2020. Effects of florfenicol on growth, photosynthesis and antioxidant system of the non-target organism Isochrysis galbana. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology C-Toxicology & Pharmacology 233.

Zhang, Y. X., P. Y. Guo, Y. M. Wu, X. Y. Zhang, M. X. Wang, S. M. Yang, Y. S. Sun, J. Deng, and H. T. Su. 2019. Evaluation of the subtle effects and oxidative stress response of chloramphenicol, thiamphenicol, and florfenicol in Daphnia magna. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 38:575-584.

Zong, H. M., D. Y. Ma, J. Y. Wang, and J. T. Hu. 2010. Research on Florfenicol Residue in Coastal Area of Dalian (Northern China) and Analysis of Functional Diversity of the Microbial Community in Marine Sediment. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 84:245-249.

2) BrownMed: Effect of brownification on the oligotrophic environment of the Eastern Mediterranean (JOMEX). This experiment will be a combination of WP6 and WP9.
Project leader:

Dr Paraskevi Pitta

Research Director

Institute of Oceanography, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR)

Timing: 24 May – 20 June 2021

Location: CretaCosmos Mesocosm Facility

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) in Crete

https://www.aquacosm.eu/mesocosm/cretacosmos/

Contact persons:

Dr Paraskevi Pitta

Email: vpitta@hcmr.gr

Mr Iordanis Magiopoulos

Email: iordanis@hcmr.gr

The large-scale mesocosm experiment will take in late May to middle June (approx. 4 weeks). This period includes preparation, setting up of the experiment, conduction and after-work, when all participants are expected to participate as an integral part of the application period.

Transnational Access (TA) users are welcome to apply for a range of activities: see below for details

In total, approximately 200 person days will be available for TA users under the AQUACOSM project. The project will support the travel expenses (travel, accommodation etc) of approx. 9 persons for approx. 22 days each (or other combinations).

Interested TA users are welcome to contact Dr. Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta <vpitta@hcmr.gr> well before the application deadline.

Introduction

There is growing evidence that terrestrial ecosystems are exporting more dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to aquatic ecosystems than they did just a few decades ago (Clark et al., 2010). This “browning” phenomenon will alter the chemistry, physics, and biology of water bodies in complex and difficult-to-predict ways. Browning will directly influence primary production by higher light attenuation creating shading, thereby reducing primary production. At the same time, browning will increase bacterial production by supplying DOC, thereby shifting basal energy mobilization within aquatic food webs in complex and not easy to predict ways (Ask et al., 2009). Initial food-web configuration and traits will therefore largely affect the response of aquatic systems to browning.

Experiments at different sites along two important environmental gradients will provide a unique opportunity to elucidate how browning will affect the stability and functioning of aquatic ecosystems and interact with local species pools and ecosystem characteristics. Manipulations of DOC loading will be performed at 3 sites along a salinity gradient from freshwater to marine and along 3 sites along a latitudinal gradient from Arctic to Mediterranean. In all sites, standardized floatable mesocosm systems of similar dimensions will be used and also different degrees of enrichment with an already tested and well characterized terrestrial DOC source will be examined, in a way to keep comparability between experiments.

Aim of the experiment

In this specific experiment in Crete, Greece (Eastern Mediterranean), we will assess the impact of dissolved organic carbon release in the marine ecosystem, which is an effect also known as the “browning effect” (for details see here, https://www.aquacosm.eu/project-information/work-packages/wp9/task-9-2/). The experiment that will take place at CretaCosmsos, Crete, Greece is part of the AQUACOSM joint mesocosm experiments, so the DOC source will be the same as in other infrastructures for comparison reasons along major environmental gradients.

Controls and treatments will be performed in triplicates. The experiment will last approx. 3 weeks.

During the experiment, the following variables will be studied:

Abiotic parameters (ToC, pH)

Nutrients

Dissolved (PO4, SiO2, NO2, NO3, NH4)

Particulate (PON, POC)

Bacterial variables

Abundance (FC)

Phytoplankton variables

Chla (total and fractionated)

FC counts

Community structure (Lugol)

Zooplankton variables

Microscopic analyses of microzooplankton (Lugol)

TA users interested in plankton community structure and function are encouraged to apply for participation and funding.

Specifically, researchers and trainees are invited to study:

Bacterial variables

Production

Phytoplankton variables

Pigment composition (HPLC)

Zooplankton variables

Mesozooplankton samples (>250um), Microscopic analyses of abundance and community composition (start, middle, end).

  1. Experiment (open extra call)

Use of Ultrasounds as antifoulants on artificial surfaces (USAFAS)

Project leader:

Dr Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta, Mr Iordanis Magiopoulos

Timing of the Experiment:

June to July 2020 (depending on TA applicants availability).

Who can apply:

In total, approximately 35 person days will be available for Transnational Access (TA) users that are experts on ultrasound devises for marine applications.

Introduction:

The accuracy and reliability of the long-term deployment marine sensors is rapidly impaired by biofouling. The gradual build-up of biofouling on sensors and their housings can obstruct water movement, modify the microenvironment around the sensor head, obscure optical windows and electrodes, and increase the rate of corrosion (Videla and Characklis 1992) leading to costlier and time-consuming maintenance procedures.

Current methods to reduce biofouling on sensors include, but are not limited to, the use of biocidal materials and coatings, the controlled release or generation of biocidal chemicals, and physical removal using wipers, scrapers or water jets (Manov et al. 2004; Whelan and Regan 2006; Delauney et al. 2010). Acoustic vibration, either within the audible (20 Hz to ≤20 kHz) or ultrasonic (≥20 kHz) frequency range, has been demonstrated as a promising, ecologically friendly alternative to conventional methods for the removal of organic and inorganic material attached to submerged surfaces (Gittens et al. 2013; Legg et al. 2015).

Despite the advantages of ultrasounds and their increasing popularity as antifouling methods, there is a paucity of data relating to the potential application for the protection of marine sensing.

Aim of the experiment

The aim of this mesocosm experiment is to demonstrate the efficiency of ultrasounds as antifouling method by studying the early development stages of bacterial biofilms on various engineered surfaces that are used in marine sensors.

To achieve that, various engineered surfaces (e.g. PMMA, PVC, PE) will be deployed in the same coastal water (North of Crete, Eastern Mediterranean) and exposed to various ultrasounds in separated mesocosm tanks (to avoid sound propagation). At least 4 treatments will be tested: 3 ultrasound frequencies (20, 40 and 60 kHz) and a control (no ultrasound). 

In addition to various frequencies, pulse times and pulse periods of ultrasounds will be tested (if this is technically possible), in different mesocosms, in order to establish the optimum configuration for in-situ marine instrumentation platforms in terms of energy consumption and antifouling efficiency.   

Interested TA users are welcome to contact Dr Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta (vpitta@hcmr.gr) and Mr Iordanis Magiopoulos (iordanis@hcmr.gr) prior to the application deadline.

References:

Delauney, L., Compere, C. and Lehaitre, M. (2010) Biofouling protection for marine environmental sensors. Ocean Sci 6, 503–511.

Gittens, J.E., Smith, T.J., Suleiman, R. and Akid, R. (2013) Current and emerging environmentally-friendly systems for fouling control in the marine environment. Biotechnol Adv 31, 1738–1753.

Legg, M., Yu€cel, M.K., Garcia de Carellan, I., Kappatos, V., Selcuk, C. and Gan, T.H. (2015) Acoustic methods for biofouling control: a review. Ocean Eng 103, 237–247.

Manov, D.V., Chang, G.C. and Dickey, T.D. (2004) Methods for reducing biofouling of moored optical sensors. J Atmos Ocean Tech 21, 958–968.

Videla, H.A. and Characklis, W.G. (1992) Biofouling and microbially influenced corrosion. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation 29, 195–212.

Whelan, A. and Regan, F. (2006) Antifouling strategies for marine and riverine sensors. J Environ Monit 8, 880–886.

  1. Experiment (call closed)

The JOMEX experiment (study of brownification) will take place at CretaCosmos in the framework of WP9. Also an extra treatment will be applied (a local source of DOC). At the same time, the facility will open for TA. We will open May-June 2020. We plan to offer TA to 7-8 persons for 25-30 days each. Details will be added in late August, early September.

Experiment I: Addressing the impacts of a low-dose addition of silver nanoparticles vs. silver ions in a coastal marine ecosystem.

Project leader: Dr. Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta, Dr. Anastasia Tsiola

Timing of the experiment: The large-scale mesocosm experiment will take place between middle May and middle June (approx. 4 weeks). This period includes preparation, setting up of the experiment, conduction and after-work, when all participants are expected to participate as an integral part of the application period.

Transnational Access (TA) users are welcome to apply for a range of activities: see below for details

In total, approximately 250 person days will be available for TA users under the AQUACOSM project. The project will support the travel expenses (travel, accommodation etc) of approx. 10 persons for approx. 30 days (or other combinations).

Interested TA users are welcome to contact Dr. Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta <vpitta@hcmr.gr> and Dr. Anastasia Tsiola <atsiola@hcmr.gr> well before the application deadline.

Introduction

Nowadays, silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are increasingly used in consumer products due to their unique physico-chemical features and antibacterial properties. There is evidence that AgNPs are toxic to several planktonic taxa and their indiscriminate use may lead to the development of microbial resistance.  However, the fate of AgNPs into the marine environment is currently not well studied, despite the fact that AgNPs may influence specifically the coastal marine ecosystem in the near future.

Based on the recently developed flow injection on-line dilution single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (spICP-MS) method, it became feasible to detect and characterize AgNPs directly in natural seawater at low ng Ag L-1 concentrations (Toncelliet al., 2016).The mesocosm experiment that followed the method development revealed that ng AgNPs L-1 were toxic to several bacterial phyla, diatom and dinoflagellate genera and viruses in terms of taxonomy, lysogeny potential and auxiliary metabolic gene content (Tsiolaet al., 2018). Nevertheless, it remained uncertain whether a) the ionic (Ag+) or nanoparticulate silver caused the toxicity, b) natural ligands and organic matter in the seawater reduced the final toxicity to other plankton and c) the toxicity was seen further up the food web (i.e. at the copepod level). In addition, it was not clear which was the intracellular silver concentration in the different microorganism size spectra and which were the toxicity mechanisms (e.g. direct uptake) of AgNPs and Ag+for the cells.

Aim of the experiment

The aim of this experiment is to compare the impacts of a stepwise addition of ng L-1AgNPs versus Ag+ to a natural coastal planktonic community targeting viruses, bacteria, phyto- and zoo- plankton (including copepods). We will set up 9 mesocosms of 3-m3 each at the HCMR Cretacosmos facilities (triplicate control mesocosms, triplicate mesocosms that will receive AgNPs and triplicate mesocosms that will receive Ag+).

The following parameters will be evaluated:

  1. Silver mass balance (AgNP, dissolved Ag, Ag in microorganisms) as a function of time in the mesocosms treated with Ag+ versus AgNPs using flow injection spICP-MS
  2. Abundance and community structure of the different plankton components using molecular and microscopic analysis
  3. Chlorophyll and dissolved nutrient concentration

TA users interested in plankton community structure and function, ecotoxicology and marine ecology are encouraged to apply for participation and funding.

Specifically, researchers and trainees are invited to study:

  1. Hetero-aggregation of AgNPs with natural seawater ligands (S2-, SO42-, phosphate)
  2. Biomass of phyto- and zoo- plankton
  3. Organic matter and exopolymeric substances concentration
  4. Microscopic visualization of potential AgNPs and Ag+ intrusion into the cells
  5. Viral genome content and potential gain of microbial resistance through auxiliary metabolic genes
  6. Copepod egg production
  7. Synechococcus bio-accumulation of AgNPs and Ag+ using cell sorting and separate inspection
  8. Biological fixation of Ν2

Experiment II: Deepening the knowledge on the dissolved phosphorus uptake in the P-limited Eastern Mediterranean. 

Project leader: Dr. Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta, Ms. Ioulia Santi

This experiment will be part of the research activities of the “Centre for the study and sustainable exploitation of Marine Biological Resources (CMBR)” which is an integrative large-scale Greek Research Infrastructure (RI) of the National Roadmap for RI’s.

Timing of the experiment: The mesocosm experiment will take place from middle of September until middle of October, 2019. The total duration will be approximately 4 weeks, including preparation and experimental set up, experiment and after-work. Participants are expected to participate through the whole procedure from preparation to after-work.

Transnational Access (TA) users are welcome to apply for a range of activities: see below for details.

In total, approximately 100 person-days will be available for TA users under the AQUACOSM project. The project will support the travel expenses (travel, accommodation etc.) of approx. 3 persons for approx. 30 days (or other combinations).

Interested TA users are welcome to contact Dr. Paraskevi (Vivi) Pitta <vpitta@hcmr.gr> and Ms. Ioulia Santi<isanti@hcmr.gr> well before the application deadline.

Aim of the experiment

During the past 20 years, a lot of attention has been given to oligotrophic habitats and their response to trophic status alterations. The Mediterranean basin is an ideal system for studying such responses since its unique P-limited seawater has led to the identification of different nutrient uptake scenaria that provoked a lot of discussion.With climate change phenomena introducing nutrients more often and less predictably into the sea, basic research that leads to a better understanding of plankton responses to nutrient additions is necessary.

With this experiment we will revisit the topic of P-uptake by plankton in the oligotrophic, P-limited Eastern Mediterranean and will further focus on higher resolution approaches to study plankton communities.We will focus on the immediate response to P addition of bacterial and eukaryotic communities in terms of diversity and function. Moreover, extra attention will be given to the meso-zooplankton community by focusing on their egg production activity, on their offspring’s diversity (eggs and nauplii), and also on their feeding behavior. Having understood the overall response of the system, this experiment will take previous knowledge to the next level by studying changes also at the molecular level.

TA users interested in plankton community structure and function, ecotoxicology and marine ecology are encouraged to apply for participation and funding. Trainees are warmly invited to apply and participate to this experiment.

Specifically, participants are invited to:

  1. Investigate the biological N2 fixation. Are there changes in the N2 fixation rate due to phosphorus adequacy?
  2. Work on the micro-plankton biomass
  3. Analyze the taxonomy of meso-zooplankton species
  4. Study the meso-zooplankton egg production rate
  5. Analyze the gut content of meso-zooplankton
  6. Work as trainees and therefore gain experience on mesocosm experiments set-up and on laboratory analyses.

References:

Fodelianakis S, et al. (2014). Phosphate addition has minimal short-term effects on bacterioplankton community structure of the P-starved Eastern Mediterranean. Aquat. Microb. Ecol., 72: 98-104.

Pitta P, et al. (2016). Confirming the “Rapid phosphorus transfer from microorganisms to mesozooplankton in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea” scenario through a mesocosm experiment. J. Plankton Res., 38(3): 502-521.

Sebastián M, et al. (2012). Bacterioplankton groups involved in the uptake of phosphate and dissolved organic phosphorus in a mesocosm experiment with P-starved Mediterranean waters. Environ. Microbiol., 14: 2334–2347.

Thingstad TF, et al. (2005). Nature of phosphorus limitation in the ultraoligotrophic eastern Mediterranean. Science, 309: 1068-1071.

 

We plan to open our facility for AQUACOSM TA either in May/June or in September/October 2018. We have already contacted some colleagues and have preliminary plans about a couple of experiments. We intend to set up a group of people to come to our facility and according to the interest that will be expressed for our facility.

At least 300 person-days will be offered to external users supported through the AQUACOSM Transnational Access provision in years 2018, that is 6-8 persons for 25-30 days. Projects of external users will be integrated in the general schedule of the facility.

Legal name of organisation (short name)
Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR)
Country
Greece
Continent
Europe
Organisation address

Institute of Oceanography
Ex American Base Gournes
71003 Heraklion, Crete
Greece

Infrastructure (short name)
CRETACOSMOS
Infrastructure address

Ex American Base, Crete, Greece, 25 km east of Heraklion

Coordinates / (routes, areas if non-static)
Facility location(s)
Description of the Infrastructure

Description of the infrastructure: CretaCosmos facility is part of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) in Crete. It is the only place in Europe where truly oligotrophic marine conditions can be studied in a well-controlled mesocosm facility. The CretaCosmos facility includes 12 pelagic mesocosms (3 m3) and 9 benthocosms, which are incubated in two large temperature-controlled concrete tanks (150 m3 volume – 3 m depth, and 350 m3 volume – 5 m depth). The pelagic mesocosms are low-density polyethylene bags of 1.32 m diameter, enclosing 3 m3 of water. The benthocosms are low-density polyethylene bags 0.64 m in diameter and 4.5 m high. They hold 1.5 m3 of water and a container with 85 L of sediment at the bottom. The smaller (150 m3) tank is equipped with a fully automated heating/ cooling system that allows temperature manipulation and control within ±0.5 oC of target temperature. Environmental variables (temperature, light, etc.) are monitored via in situ sensors. To fill the mesocosms, Eastern Mediterranean water is collected aboard the R/V Philia. The possibility to control and manipulate water temperature allows running climate- change experiments. The benthocosms, containing a relatively large sediment volume as well as a water column of 4 m height, open the possibility to run experiments on benthic-pelagic coupling under conditions close to the real coastal environment. In addition, the two large-volume concrete tanks can be used to test large instruments, sensors and more. The mesocosm facility is complemented by modern laboratories: chemical lab to analyse nutrients; radio-isotope lab (14C,3H,33P) to measure primary and bacterial production and phosphorus uptake; culture lab equipped with an autoclave, laminar-flow cabinet, incubator, etc.; several general-purpose labs and a constant-temperature room. Plankton and microbial analysis equipment includes two flow cytometers, inverted and epifluorescence microscopes with an automated image analysis system and stereoscopes. Several laboratory equipment (centrifuges, analytical balances, baths, fridge and freezers (-80°C), several liquid N2 dewars, etc) is also available. The facility is also supported by an automotive lab, an inflatable zodiac, and the R/V Philia. An auditorium and several seminar and meeting rooms are available to host regular meetings of the TA participants throughout the experiments.

CretaCosmos facility (left), scheme of benthocosms (middle), see Dimitriou et al. (2017), in situ oil burning and soot collection construction used in the mesocosm experiment 2018 (right). Photos: P. Pitta.
Primary contact information (PI)

Dr. Paraskevi Pitta

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Years of Mesocosm Experiments
2009 to present
Description of Facility

outdoor – pelagic/benthic – marin

12 polyethylene mesocosm-bags up to 5 m3 (1.32 m diameter) incubated in two large volume concrete tanks (one with volume 150 m³ and 3 m depth and a second one with volume 350 m³ and 5 m depth)

9 benthocosms combining water column (1.5 m3, 4 m deep, 0.64 m diameter) and sediment (85 L) in the same polyethylene mesocosm-bag

The smaller (150 m³) tank is equipped by a sophisticated, fully-automated heating/cooling water system with electric valves, resistances and temperature sensors that allow water heating/cooling and temperature control at ±0.5 ºC of targeted temperature

Controlled Parameters

Temperature, light, nutrients

Research Topics

Response of the ultra-oligotrophic food web of the Eastern Mediterranean to perturbations, climate change scenarios (simultaneous effect of warming & acidification), impact of aerosol input, effect of silver nanoparticles, benthic-pelagic coupling at benthocosms, hypoxia

Primary interests
Specialist areas
Source of Information
Photos of experiments/installations
Cretacosmos facility during the LightDynaMix project (Photo: Stella A Berger)
Two basins of the Cretacosmos mesocosm facility (Photo: Vivi Pitta)
Cretacosmos mesocosm facility (Photo: Vivi Pitta)
Infrastructure (short name)
CRETACOSMOS
Modality of access

Modality of access under AQUACOSM: A total of 688 person-days will be offered to external users supported through the AQUACOSM Transnational Access provision in years 2-4, a minimum of 6 persons for 30 days each year. Projects of external users will be integrated in the general schedule of the facility.

Modality of access under AQUACOSM-plus: A total of 600 person-days will be offered to external users supported through the AQUACOSM-plus Transnational Access provision. It is anticipated that AQUACOSM-plus will support stays of at least 7 persons for 43 days per year in M10-21 and M34-45. Projects of external users will be integrated in the general schedule of the facility.

Unit of access
What service and support facilities are available

Services currently offered by the infrastructure: Users of CretaCosmos have access to the full range of mesocosms, laboratories and instrumentation described above. Eleven experimental campaigns have used the CretaCosmos facility since 2009, including 7 EU funded projects. Over 90 scientists from 16 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia participated in these experiments, addressing various aspects of global environmental change. For example, the MedSeA experiment in 2013 was the first to assess combined effects of seawater warming and acidification on the pelagic food web of an oligotrophic area (Eastern Mediterranean), and the benthocosms were first used in 2014 during a two-month experiment addressing the effect of eutrophication on benthic-pelagic coupling. Up to date, 26 publications have been published in peer-reviewed journals while 25 more are planned. Additionally, an enclosure facility moored offshore, the Lagrangian Mesocosm Platform (LAMP) operated by the partner CNRS-MARBEC, was successfully tested during the EU project MESOAQUA in 2011.

Support offered under AQUACOSM: The laboratories, research vessels and equipment described above will be at the disposal of the users of CRETACOSMOS under AQUACOSM. To maximize scientific advancements and output of the TA activity, users will receive support in terms of planning of activities both before and after arrival. Hands-on training by the local team of academic and technical staff. IT support, a library with on-line access to all major marine science journals will also be provided. Building on dedicated administrative staff and ample experience gained since 2009, an efficient administration mechanism is in place. The HCMR research park in Heraklion (Thalassocosmos) where 31 scientists of 3 institutes work on oceanography, aquaculture, fisheries, marine biology and genetics offers a stimulating broader scientific environment. Visitors under AQUACOSM are encouraged to get involved in the academic discourse in both formal and informal ways.

Support offered under AQUACOSM-plus: The laboratories, research vessels and equipment described above will be at the disposal of the users of CretaCosmos under AQUACOSM-plus. To maximize scientific advancements and output of the TA activity, users will receive support in terms of planning of activities both before and after arrival. Hands-on training by the local team of academic and technical staff, IT support and on-line access to all major marine science journals will also be provided. The HCMR research park in Heraklion (Thalassocosmos) where more than 100 scientists of 3 institutes work on oceanography, aquaculture, fisheries, marine biology and genetics offers a stimulating broader scientific environment.

Accommodation

no dormitories, accomodation in hotels

Special rules