The marine environment is under increasing pressure from pollution associated with a range of human activities, including fossil fuel extraction and refinement, shipping, commercial and domestic discharge, as well as agricultural runoff.

Whilst point sources of pollution are reasonably manageable, many contaminants enter marine ecosystems diffusely, often subjecting marine organisms to low-level chronic exposure.

Ecotoxicological biomarkers being developed in a range of marine model species in the Lyell Centre’s interdisciplinary Marine Pollution and Ecotoxicology theme enable the identification of exposure of marine organisms to potentially harmful contaminants long before community level effects are noticeable.

In addition to the enduring relationships between industry bodies and academia fostering research into environmental monitoring around oil and gas infrastructure, a central issue for this theme is the understanding of the impact of emerging technologies whose products, such as nanomaterials, and contaminants of emerging concern, such as microplastics, pose yet poorly understood threats and challenges to the marine environment, as well as the potential effects of climate change on contaminant behaviour, toxicity and biomarker sensitivity.