The conference sessions will be organized around the following themes for which proposals will be accepted:

THEME 1: The role of microorganisms on contaminant dynamics, biotransformation and bioremediation

Inorganic and organic contaminants released in natural environments may undergo multiple processes of abiotic and biotic transformations, which determine their environmental fate and persistence in the ecosystems. Microorganisms have evolved multiple strategies to respond to contaminant toxicity and to detoxify their intracellular and extracellular environment. The metabolic capacities of the microorganisms to transform complex and hazardous compounds in less toxic, less persistent and less bioavailable structures play a determinant role in contaminant fate and have great potential to treat and restore polluted ecosystems.

This session welcomes studies at laboratory-scale or in-situ field-scale trials focusing on the role of microbial species and communities on contaminants dynamics and bioremediation in natural environments. Specifically, we invite contributions of doctoral and postdoctoral students developing innovative projects that focus on: i) studies of microbial processes that determine contaminant speciation, sequestration and biotransformation; ii) bioremediation of contaminated soil, sludge or aquatic environments, iii) molecular biology applications to bioremediation. Works that explore the current challenges in the field by integrating innovative chemistry, microbiology, ecological approaches and modelling are particularly welcomed.

Keywords: chemical speciation, environmental fate, bioavailability, detoxification, ecosystems restoration

THEME 2: Microbial responses to contaminants across multiple levels of biological organization

Microbial communities play a crucial role supporting key ecosystem functions in any biotope. Facing environmental stress, microorganisms have developed a wide range of evolutionary and physiological adaptation mechanisms that allow them to remain active and survive. Physiological responses to stress can be explored at different levels (from cell to ecosystem through the population). The stress induces physiological cost that can result in visible alterations on the ecosystem. The other way around is also noticeable with large-scale impacts resulting on modification of active microbe’s physiology. This session welcomes studies aiming to understand the consequences of chemical, environmental or biological stressors on microbial community structure and diversity and on physiological responses, with emphasis on determination of consequences on the ecosystem functioning.

Keywords: physiological response, diversity changes, adaptation, functional impairment, resistance and resilience

THEME 3: Emerging approaches in microbial ecotoxicology

This session is dedicated to the cutting-edge approaches recently developed and applied to microbial ecotoxicology. The originality of these techniques provides unprecedented insights. The field of microbial ecotoxicology is evolving exceptionally quickly, partly because it can benefit from the new developments in, among others, molecular biology, microscopy and high-throughput omics. In addition to allowing for better understanding of microbes and their interactions with contaminants, the new developments in these fields pave the way for new discoveries. This session is specifically aimed at the newest and innovative approaches.

Keywords: emerging approaches, innovating methods

THEME 4: Impacts of contaminants on biotic interactions

Microbial communities are placed at the basis of many ecosystems and environmental compartments, from soil to surface waters and can be hosted in a wide spectrum: from organisms to organs. Interaction networks taking place in animals’ organs (e.g. gut, skin, etc.), plants and within aquatic ecosystems or soils result from the production of metabolites by one compartment benefiting the other for its metabolism or biomass production. Together, these beneficial interactions contribute to the harmonious balance of these particular ecosystems. The roles and relationships microbial communities undertake may be modified or even jeopardized by the exposure of different types of pollutants, leading to broader consequences on hosts’ health and finally ecosystems. This session aims to bring together works in terrestrial and aquatic environments on both host-associated and free-living microbial communities.

Keywords: altered biotic interactions, co-occurrence networks, trophic chain, microbiota

THEME 5: Use of microorganisms for environmental quality assessment

The presence of pollutants/micropollutants in the environment have raised several needs such as i) development of tools able to monitor environmental quality ii) identification of effective bioindicators able to assess pollutants impact on different organisms iii) identify suitable tracers of pollutants transformations. Indeed, microorganisms have been identified as a potential support to overcome those needs. They are very interesting for biomonitoring due to their ability to respond quickly to environmental changes, rapid growth rate and short generation time. Those responses can be observed at various biological levels (e.g. physiological, molecular and taxonomic structure). In addition, their use in risk assessment is of high interest, especially due to the major functional role they ensure in the environment, and also as an alternative to minimize the animal use in toxicity studies. However, microbial communities are still not considered in regulation for setting environmental protective thresholds.

This session welcomes all studies aiming to identify bioindicators or biomarkers. Studies dealing with community degradation or resilience will fit to this session. Finally, we also want to focus on approaches aiming to derive effect concentrations using laboratory bioassays as well as in-situ system and/or models

Keywords: biological indicators, risk assessment, biotest, biomarkers, ecosystem health

THEME 6: Exposure of microorganisms to multiple stressors: combined effects and responses

Wherever microorganisms evolve in soil, water or sediment, they have to cope with a wide variety of factors that occur simultaneously. Those factors can be directly linked to anthropogenic activities (e.g. contamination by pollutants) and climatic extreme events (e.g. changes in temperature and drought). Because such complex systems make the characterization of micropollutant effects on microorganisms difficult, unraveling interactions between micropollutants and other stressors is a rising challenge in ecotoxicology.

This session welcomes studies investigating the effects and/or the nature of the interactions between two or more micropollutants or between micropollutants and/or other stress factors on microbial species and communities. We invite contributions of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers that are developing laboratory and in situ investigations at different levels of biological organization (molecular, cellular, population and community). Research works that took into consideration realistic exposure scenarios or multiple exposure time scales and sequences are particularly welcomed. Studies dealing with modeling (e.g. mixture effect prediction) could also fit to this session.

Keywords: mixture, combined effect, modeling and prediction, abiotic factors, changing environment