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Ermelinda Del Buono

  • Phd: 37th cycle
  • Matriculation number: 1091676

Phd thesis

Occurrence of trace and Rare Earth Elements (REE) in the planktonic community


REEs are represented on the periodic table by 15 elements ranging from lanthanum to lutetium, in addition to the two elements of group III B, scandium and yttrium. Although REEs have been considered for a long time as elements of low risk for human health, we cannot exclude a negative impact on many species.

Trace elements are essential for the biogeochemical cycle even if above a certain level they could damage the marine ecosystem and cause toxicity risks also for humans.

The planktonic component is crucial in the marine environment. The phytoplankton directly influences the availability and distribution of the essential and non-essential elements, while the zooplankton transfer organic matter and contaminants from the phytoplankton to the upper-level consumers. 

The project aims to analyze the concentration of a wider range of essential and non-essential elements and REEs concentration in different planktonic communities (phytoplankton and zooplankton) samples collected from different environments to evaluate the difference in terms of concentrations of these contaminants and their potential impact on the aquatic food web.

The measurement of concentrations of trace elements and REEs will be interpreted considering a more general evaluation of the human impact on biodiversity. The methodology includes the identification of some species of plankton community under the stereomicroscope. Biomass estimation in terms of wet weight and abundance in terms of the number of species per cubic meter. A mass spectrometer will be used for the analysis of rare earth and trace elements, while the Hg content will be measured with a Direct Mercury. This project will involve the IZS of Piedmont and Valle D’Aosta and Venice CNR.

I expect to find a significant effect of pollutants in terms of trace elements and REEs in the different considered areas.



Last update: 14/02/2024 09:23
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