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Non-standard laboratory tests

Pollutant effects in non-standard laboratory tests

Studies with modified experimental design, non-standard species or natural species communities

Non-standard laboratory tests

tests have become increasingly relevant in recent years, as they can be used to address open questions from environmental risk assessment for individual species or groups of species more precisely. These experiments include three categories:

  1. Tests with standard species and modified experimental designs
  2. Single species tests with non-standard species
  3. Short-term tests with natural species assemblages

Single-species experiments with standard species and modified experimental design

Our team has worked intensively on the development and optimisation of such test procedures in recent years, so that we can offer you the following tested procedures as a service:

Population studies with Daphnia magna

Here, we have experience with different peak exposure scenarios and with experimental approaches including sediment.


Here we have a wide range of experience from experiments up to a test duration of 21 days with complex exposure scenarios.

Microalgae studies (e.g. with Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, Desmodesmus subspicatus)

We develop methods for complex multi-peak exposure scenarios including recovery phases.

Single-species experiments with non-standard invertebrates

gaiac has extensive experience in conducting acute and chronic effect studies with aquatic non-standard organisms, also under GLP.  In this context, we offer both single species evaluations with peak or contant exposure scenarios, as well as SSD (Species Sensitivity Distribution) studies. These tests can be carried out at standard temperature, but also for different temperature ranges.

Acute tests with non-standard invertebrates

We have experience in conducting acute tests (e.g. 48 h, 96 h) for various zooplankton organisms and macroinvertebrates:

  • Mayflies (e.g. Habrophlebia lauta, Serratella ignita, Cloeon dipterum, Habroleptoides confusa)
  • Caddisflies (e.g. Hydropsyche siltalai, Sericostoma spec. )
  • Stoneflies (e.g. Leuctra spec., Siphonoperla spec.)
  • Phantom midges ( Chaoborus crystallinus)
  • Water bugs (e.g. Notonecta spec.)
  • Aquatic isopods (Asellus aquaticus)
  • Amphipods (e.g. Gammarus pulex, Crangonyx pseudogracillis)
  • Cladocerans (e.g. Chydorus sphaericus, Daphnia longispina)

Chronic tests for lethal effects

To investigate longer-term lethal effects, we successfully established test procedures with mayflies (e.g. Habrophlebia lauta, Cloeon dipterum) over at least 21 days.

Chronic tests with sublethal endpoints

Currently, we have developed test protocols to investigate the feeding rate and the developmental rate of Cloeon dipterum,  which are currently in a test phase.

Short-term experiments with natural species assemblages

Plankton communities

  • We have experience in conducting experiments with already developed, natural phytoplankton species communities and zooplankton communities to study acute effects caused by pesticides. These experiments can be conducted under controlled conditions in the laboratory or under natural conditions as small enclosure experiments e.g. in mesocosms. The duration of the experiments is 21 days.

Mesofauna species community

We have developed a test protocol that allows us to investigate acute effects on mesofauna communities in soil. This approach can be used as a screening procedure for the initial assessment of effects on collembolans and oribatids and as a preliminary test for selecting the appropriate test item concentrations for higher-tier TME studies or field studies.

Our goal and motivation for test development

Our aim is to reproduce the ecological requirements of the test species in our laboratory systems as well as possible and thus to minimise the stress level for the test organisms. We strive to establish new approaches for further relevant species or communities in order to support a more realistic risk assessment.

Ongoing method optimisation

Currently, there is no uniform standard for the implementation and evaluation these testing approaches. In order to ensure that the test results are highly informative, we are continuously improving the methodology used for effect evaluation.

Silke Classen

Phone: +49 241 – 8027640

Katrin Gergs

Phone: +49 241 – 8027107

Taxonomic expertise

Good Laboratory Practice



since 2008
Assessment of the influence of pesticides on plankton communities in indoor microcosms under constant environmental conditions according to GLP | various clients, 4 studies, as of 2021
since 2006
Assessment of plant protection products in growth inhibition tests with Lemna minor/gibba under standard and non-standard test conditions according to GLP | various clients, 27 studies, as of 2021
Ökotoxikologische Untersuchung inkl. Probenahme aus Gewässerstandorten mit Eisenockergehalt bei Vetschau/Spreewald | Nabu/BUND
Untersuchungen im Rahmen der Umweltverträglichkeit von Desinfektionsmaßnahmen nach Ausbrüchen infektiöser Virusseuchen in Fischteichen, akute Tests mit Nicht-Standardarten und Makrozoobenthos-Monitoring | BLE, im Unterauftrag des Fraunhofer IME, Schmallenberg
Untersuchung von Abwasserproben im Reproduktionstest und im Populationstest mit Daphnia magna zur Behandlung von Krankenhausabwässern in Kooperation mit dem Institut für Siedlungswasserwirtschaft | MUNLV

Publications & Presentations

Hammers-Wirtz, M., Gergs, K., Bruns, E., Classen, S. (2020): Cloeon dipterum - developing robust ecotoxicological test systems for mayflies. Poster presentation, SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting, 03-07 May 2020, Dublin, Ireland.
Strauss, T., Toschki, A., Hammers-Wirtz, M. (2020): New approaches to testing acute toxic effects on natural plankton and soil communities. Poster presentation, SETAC Europe 30th Annual Meeting, 03-07 May 2020, Dublin, Ireland.
Hammers-Wirtz, M., Classen, S., Strauss, T. (2019): Non-standard biotests – Intelligent testing to combine different needs and requirements for experimental and modelling approaches. Poster presentation, SETAC Europe 29th Annual Meeting, 26-30 May 2019, Helsinki, Finland.
Strauss, T. (2018): Integration of temperature-dependent TKTD kinetics in individual-based population modelling – A case study with Chaoborus crystallinus. Platform presentation, SETAC Europe 28th Annual Meeting, 13-17 May 2018, Rome, Italy.
Toschki, A., Oellers, J., Willius, N., Hammers-Wirtz, M. (2017): A new screening approach for testing natural soil communities in the laboratory. Poster presentation, SETAC Europe 27th Annual Meeting, 07-11 May 2017, Brussels, Belgium.
Becker, D., Classen, S., Liedtjens, K., Preuss, T. G., Ratte, H. T. (2011): Ecotoxicological research in terms of sensitivity distinctions of lotic insect larvae with Imidacloprid. Poster presentation, SETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting, 15-19 May 2011, Milan, Italy.
Strauss, T., Hommen, U., Hammers-Wirtz, M. (2011): A single species test with the filamentous green algae Oedogonium sp. for higher tier risk assessment. Poster presentation, SETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting, 15-19 May 2011, Milano, Italy.
Hammers-Wirtz, M., Ratte, H.T. (2000): Offspring fitness in Daphnia: Is the Daphnia reproduction test appropriate for extrapolating effects on the population level? Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 19 (7): 1856-1866.

We look forward to hearing from you!