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LBDV laboratory

Marine embryoTox

Project description:

A new direction in the team led us to establish the ascidian embryo as a molecular toxicological model to study the neurodevelopmental toxicity of endocrine disruptors and to develop toxicological assays detecting carcinogenics and endocrine disruptors (Dumollard et al., 2017). This project takes advantage of the relative simplicity of the ascidian system, and is aimed at exploiting the molecular resources and techniques in use over the last 15 years in the laboratory (genome, transcriptome, Full ORF cDNA bank for 2 ascidian species (Phallusia mammillata and Ciona intestinalis), proteome, transgenesis, gene knock down, in toto imaging of development) in order to devise a battery of molecular toxicological tests. This latter project will hopefully result in applying transgenic ascidian embryos to high content and high-throughput imaged based screens. In this project we use a remarkable feature of ascidian tadpole larvae which bear a central nervous system composed of only 350 cells, 100 of which are neurons. Such simplicity and rapid deployment of neural GRNs and simple neuronal networks which form a functioning vertebrate like brain in less than 24 hours can be exploited for screening molecules to identify those that have a specific neurodevelopmental impact.

Figure 1: graph abstract toxico


Since 2015, the toxicology project has diversified by adding 2 other model systems (mussel and sea urchin embryos) and by studying different toxic compounds. Such extension of the scope of our studies is supported by internal collaborations with the oceanographer from the LOV (UMR7093) and by external collaborations:

-with Jean Pierre Gattuso and Lydia Kapsenberg (LOV, OOV) for a study of the impact of ocean acidification on embryonic development (1 shared M2 master student)

-with Christophe Migon and Thierry Blasco (LOV, OOV) for a study on the dissemination of BPA and of black carbon in the marine environment and their metabolisation by ascidian adults. (2 shared M2 master students)

-with Eva Ternon and Olivier Thomas (Univ. of Ireland) for a study on the toxicity of defense chemicals of xestosponges (Ternon et al 2016)


Protocols for Ascidian and other species : 


Cultures and treatments

Ascidian phallusia mammillata

Paracentrotus lividus

Mytilus galloprovincialis

 Image acquisition and analysis (In progress) 



Publications :

- Dumollard R, Gazo I, Gomes IDL, Besnardeau L, McDougall A. (2017) Ascidians: An Emerging Marine Model for Drug Discovery and Screening. Curr Top Med Chem.;17(18):2056-2066. (View or download pdf)

- Ternon E, Zarate L, Chenesseau S, Croué J, Dumollard R, Suzuki MT, Thomas OP. (2016) Spherulization as a process for the exudation of chemical cues by the encrusting sponge C. crambe. Sci Rep. Jul 6;6:29474. doi: 10.1038/srep29474. (View or download pdf)


OMERO, Imaging data base :




Traductions :




 Alex McDougall

 Rémi Dumollard


Ievgeniia Gazo

 Isa Gomes