Contact: Virginie Ducrot

The INRA (French National Institute for Agronomic Research) is the leading European agricultural research institute and one of the foremost institutes in the world for agriculture, food and the environment. It is also the second largest public research institute in France.
Founded in 1946, INRA is a public research institution, which has a clearly identified mission-oriented vocation to serve society. The research conducted at INRA concerns agriculture, food, nutrition and food safety, environment and land management, with particular emphasis on sustainable development. They aim at better food and nutrition, preservation of the environment and competitive, sustainable agricultural practices. In particular, environmental research aims at quantifying and modelling the impacts of both human production systems and global changes on the functions and dynamics of ecosystems.
Environmental research activities are implemented in several ecologically oriented divisions, which are supported by pooled technical facilities (e.g. stable isotopes, eco-genomics, mesocosms, or open-source modelling platforms) and by a network of experimental units, which manage or monitor a wide range of field sites and biological resources.

Among the variety of ecological studies that are carried out at the INRA (see, ecotoxicological research on aquatic ecosystems is mainly implemented in the Ecotoxicology and Quality of Aquatic Environments research group, which is settled in Brittany (city of Rennes). Current studies focus on the impact of pesticides on non-target freshwater organisms and ecosystems. Effects of pesticides are assessed at various levels of biological of organisation. At the individual level, early responses to exposure are assessed using a suite of biomarkers that are involved either in detoxication processes and/or in energetic and hormonal control of reproductive performances. Expression of biomarkers is related (either experimentally or using physiologically based effect models) to individual performances that are measured for fitness-related traits. Effects on life-cycle traits are then used to investigate potential responses of populations to exposure, using a variety of demographic models. The influence of population key features (such as life-history strategies, mating systems, etc…) on their response to pesticides is assessed, accounting for stochastic and directional evolutionary processes under chemical stress. At the community level, both ecological indices, suites of biological/ecological traits and/or functions are used to assess the impact of pollution on the structure, functioning and biodiversity of aquatic communities. Integrating the responses studied at these biological levels of organisation should help to understand the propagation of toxic effects, from individuals to populations and to communities. From an applied perspective, research aims at developing and validating methods/tools designed both for ecotoxicological risk assessment of pesticides, the evaluation of their ecological impacts and restoration of the disturbed ecosystems.

Within CREAM, we focus on developping mechanisitc models for risk assessment of endocrine disrupting pesticides in a freshwater gastropod Lymnaea stagnalis (Project DEB-2). This project involves two reseachers (Virginie Ducrot and Laurent Lagadic) and one PhD student. It is closely linked to the DEB-1 project.

CREAM project hosted by INRA:
Mechanistic modelling for risk assessment of endocrine disrupting pesticides in molluscs