Projekt Visegradskeho fondu

Algal cell biophysical properties as markers for environmental stress in aquatic systems

Our project is a success story:

New: Visit 1 to Laboratoř nanoindentačních zkoušek, ČVUT v Praze

Staff involved: Zuzana Pavlinska, Mgr student at Univ. Ss Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia

Time of the visit: 4-8.2. 2017

Work plan. First, student will be introduced to the instrumented nanoindentation technique in the Lab. Second, student will measure the mechanical properties of Dunalliela algal cell membrane using nanomechanical test instrument TI 950 TriboIndenter. Algae on different polymeric surfaces will be tested.

Expected outcome : evaluation of mechanical properties of Dunalliela algae and their comparison when algae are seeded on different polymeric surfaces.

New: Visit 2 to the Faculty of Natural Sciences at University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava, Slovakia

Staff involved: Ing. Katarina Mendova from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic

Time of the visit: 4-8.3. 2018

Work plan. Working on evaluation of endogenous fluorescence of algae and its changes in different experimental conditions .

Project description: Major challenges face the aquatic systems due to different human activities, which may cause substantial damage to the economy of the region (fisheries, tourism). Our common regional challenge is focused on analyzing pressure in aquatic environment and requires transnational action as recognized in EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020.

Single-celled algae play a fundamental role in the aquatic ecosystem and they are very sensitive to environmental changes. In addition to their ecological roles (oxygen producers, food web), they are economically important (biofuel, human food, pharmaceutical and industrial products). Deep understanding of algal cell physicochemical response is essential to predict how the whole ecosystem may be affected by human activities.

Physicochemical and structural characterizations of single algal cell surface are of key importance to interpret, rationalize and predict the behavior and fate of the cell under stress in vivo. We aim to examine the in vitro algal cell response under specific stress conditions (variation of salinity and heavy metals). We will look into cell surface mechanical properties (linked to adhesion dynamics and motility), as well as the membrane protein expression and cell autofluorescence. Such properties of soft and motile cells are hard to access while keeping cells viable and the studies to date are limited. Innovative comprehensive approach with state-of-the-art biophysical methods such as atomic force microscopy, nanoindentation, electrochemistry, spectroscopy and modelling will be employed.

Our solution necessitates regional collaboration to gain immediate access to the specific equipment and complementary expertise.

Project is financed by International Visegrad Fund, Bratislava, Slovakia.


  • Rudjer Boskovic Institute 
    (Dr. Nadica Ivosevic DeNardis)
  • Faculty of Science and Informatics, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
    (Dr. Bela Gyurcsik)
  • Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Czech Technical University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic                                                                                                                                                                            (Dr. Josef Sepitka)

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Technické vedy