The European Industry - Academia Network for RevIsing and Advancing the Assessment of the Soil Microbial TOxicity of Pesticides
Pesticides are major environmental pollutants. For this reason the European Commission has imposed a stringent pesticide regulatory scheme for pesticides authorisation, where risk assessment for aquatic organisms and terrestrial macro-organisms is well defined. In contrast the assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms is lagging behind. EFSA identified soil microorganisms as an attribute to monitor during pesticides environmental risk assessment and stressed the need for novel tests to assess the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms. The ARISTO project will fulfil this scientific and regulatory gap through a unique doctoral program, based on the strong interaction of academia and industry. These will produce benchmarking knowledge supporting the development of advanced tools and procedures, based on the response of key microbial indicator groups, for the comprehensive assessment of the toxicity of pesticides on soil microorganisms. ARISTO will employ 9 PhD fellows and provide to them a challenging training program aiming to develop: (1) pioneering in vitro tests, as a first conservative step, to assess the toxicity of pesticides on distinct ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (2) advanced lab and field tests to assess the toxicity of pesticides on natural soil assemblages of AOM and AMF, as a more realistic toxicity assessment step; (3) an ecosystem-level toxicity assessment looking at pesticide effects at microbial networks and across different trophic levels along the soil food web (predator - prey); (4) novel tools to determine the soil microbial toxicity of pesticide mixtures, and bio-pesticides; (5) and validate advanced in silico tools for prioritizing pesticide transformation products with potential toxicity to soil microbes.