Baltic Sea chemical diversity (IKEMON)


This research project examines chemical diversity in the Baltic sea with special emphasis on biogenic compounds (phycotoxins) produced by harmful algae. These naturally-produced, ubiquitous, toxic and bioaccumulating compounds have altered chemical general view of the Baltic Sea. The spectrum of harmful substances in the sea has also changed due to decimated emission of many classical environmental toxicants and also on the other had because newer synthetic compounds are being emitted into the environment. Since microbial communities are important in recycling of harmful substances (and especially biogenic compounds), also microbial diversity is genetically explored within this project

The project parallels with the HELCOM COMBINE monitoring of harmful substances in the Baltic Sea. Those field protocols and analytical chemistry methods used in this project will later be utilized in the domestic COMBINE monitoring, i.e. thereby complementing the monitoring programme. This additional information is necessary also due to the inadequacies of the marine framework directive. Baltic Sea marine chemistry and improvements in the field of marine chemistry in general are actively being promoted within the project.

Acute poisonings of marine organisms suspected to be related to phycotoxins can also be examined. For example, a number of sea birds died in the eastern Gulf of Finland during spring 2010, and were examined for hepatotoxic phycotoxins and paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs). The analyses confirmed that these phycotoxins were not the cause of the bird deaths in the area. Upon separate agreement, samples from external sources can be analysed for phycotoxins.

Links to publications:

Further information:

Senior researcher Harri Kankaanpää, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE  / Marine Research Centre,

Published 2013-04-09 at 11:06, updated 2013-04-09 at 11:06