Effects of pollutants on sub-Arctic and Arctic marine organisms WP1

Paul F. Wassmann, Jasmine Nahrgang, Lisa Bjørnsdatter Helgason, Ingeborg G. Hallanger and Elisabeth Halvorsen

Location: Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics (BFE), University of Tromsø

Our interests

The increasing human presence in the Arctic shelf seas, linked to the expansion of oil and gas industries and the opening of new maritime routes, poses a risk of acute and long-term diffuse pollution by petroleum compounds. In addition, persistent organic pollutants continue to pose a threat to Arctic organisms with the synthesis and release of more than 100 000 new compounds of unknown effects but with a potential for long-range transport and bioaccumulation into the Arctic food webs.

The ecotoxicology group has the goal of studying the effects of pollutants of concern for Arctic and sub-arctic marine organisms and to educate the next generation of ecotoxicologist in and for the High North.

Through several projects and in collaboration with many norwegian and international Institutions, the ecotoxicology group at the university aims at increasing knowledge of biological effects of pollutants which may have significant consequences for populations and ecosystems as a whole. This implies also a basic understanding of the organisms basic biology and ecology and thus a strong integration of basic Arctic ecology and ecotoxicology. The group has a wide range of interests, from molecular modelling, in vitro, physiological and ecosystem based studies.


Education and research


The group is strongly involved in the education of young scientists at undergraduate to graduate levels. We are currently running 3 ecotoxicology courses (BIO2008, BIO3001 and BIO3007), as well as 1 ecology course especially designed for the oil industry (BIO6000). In addition, the group is working to establish a new bachelor and master study programme  in aquatic ecotoxicology at the BFE faculty.

In addition, through our research activities, our group has been extended to 2 PhD students, one postdoc and several master students.

Activity Highlights 

Polarisation: Polar cod, lipid metabolism and disruption by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Coopenor: Combined effects of petroleum and the environmental on Bivalves from the norwegian-russian Arctic.

FISH-PARC: Uptake and effects of organophosphorus flame retardants (PFRs) in Arctic fish species


Hallanger IG, Evenset A, Sagerup K, Leonards P, Remberger M, Christensen GN, Routti H, Fuglei E, Aars J, Strøm H, Lydersen C, Gabrielsen GW, in prep. Organophosphorous flame retardants in Arctic biota.

Nahrgang J, Berge J, Varpe Ø, Korshunova E, Murzina S, in prep. Gender specific life cycle strategies in polar cod (Boreogadus saida).

Nahrgang J, Meier S, Frantzen M, Christiansen JC, Karamushko LI, Wasbotten IH, Berge J., in prep. Physiological responses to dietary crude oil in the Arctic key species polar cod (Boreogadus saida).

Geraudie P, Nahrgang J, Leray J, Minier C, Camus L. submitted. In vivo effects of environmental concentrations of produced water on the reproductive 1 function of polar cod (Boreogadus saida).

Nahrgang J, Brooks S, Evenset A, Camus L, Jonsson M, Smith T, Lukina J, Frantzen M, Giarratano E, Renaud PE (2013) Seasonal variation in biomarkers in blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), Icelandic scallop (Chlamys islandica) and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) – implications for environmental monitoring in the Barents Sea. Aquatic Toxicology 127: 21– 35


Polar cod super star (pdf)

Polarcod squad (pdf) from International Innovation, the leading global dissemination resource for the wider scientific, technology and research communities, dedicated to disseminating the latest science, research and technological innovations on a global level. More information and a complimentary subscription offer to the publication can be found at: www.researchmedia.eu

In January 2013, we appeared in radio interviews in 3 different French channels (RTL, France culture and France24).

Arctic Challenges (pdf) from global scientia. Full length issue 4 can be found here.

Related links




ARCTOS research network