Experimental facilities and means

The MICADO Lab experimental platform
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The experimental platform

MICADO LAB

MICADO'Lab (French acronym for Chronic irradiation facility for laboratory studies of the dose-effect relationship) is an external gamma irradiation platform designed for studying the effects on ecosystems of chronic exposure to ionising radiation.

MICADO LAB

The experimental platform

MICADO LAB

MICADO'Lab (French acronym for Chronic irradiation facility for laboratory studies of the dose-effect relationship) is an external gamma irradiation platform designed for studying the effects on ecosystems of chronic exposure to ionising radiation.

In the foreground, aquariums on racks for being exposed to the irradiation; in the background, Nicolas Dubourg, technical manager, on the irradiation platform © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis 
In the foreground, aquariums on racks for being exposed to the irradiation; in the background, Nicolas Dubourg, technical manager, on the irradiation platform © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis 

Context and research purpose

​Radioprotection of the environment has been integrated into the new basic standards for radiological protection at international (IAEA, 2014) and European (European Council, 2014) levels. In the context of impact assessment and monitoring, ecosystems and lower organisational levels (populations, species) now need to be protected from chronic exposure to radioactive substances. Thus, realistic effect criteria are needed to limit uncertainties in the ecological risk assessment.

Basic knowledge of the effects of ionising radiation on living organisms therefore needs to be improved, in accordance with the strategic research agenda for radioecology (Scientific Challenge 2: To Determine Ecological Consequences under Realistic Exposure Conditions) and with the recent IRSN report on the state of the art in radiation protection of the environment (IRSN, 2016).

However, studies in this area are faced with theoretical and methodological hurdles linked particularly to differences in species sensitivity and the exposure conditions of organisms (dose rates and duration).

The MICADO Lab facility was designed to allow the chronic irradiation of different biological models representative of the species found in ecosystems, at dose rates ranging from background radiation to 100 mGy/h.

​MICADO Lab's control panel © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Context and research purpose

Context and research purpose
​MICADO Lab's control panel © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

​Radioprotection of the environment has been integrated into the new basic standards for radiological protection at international (IAEA, 2014) and European (European Council, 2014) levels. In the context of impact assessment and monitoring, ecosystems and lower organisational levels (populations, species) now need to be protected from chronic exposure to radioactive substances. Thus, realistic effect criteria are needed to limit uncertainties in the ecological risk assessment.

Basic knowledge of the effects of ionising radiation on living organisms therefore needs to be improved, in accordance with the strategic research agenda for radioecology (Scientific Challenge 2: To Determine Ecological Consequences under Realistic Exposure Conditions) and with the recent IRSN report on the state of the art in radiation protection of the environment (IRSN, 2016).

However, studies in this area are faced with theoretical and methodological hurdles linked particularly to differences in species sensitivity and the exposure conditions of organisms (dose rates and duration).

The MICADO Lab facility was designed to allow the chronic irradiation of different biological models representative of the species found in ecosystems, at dose rates ranging from background radiation to 100 mGy/h.

​Source of the irradiator © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis
​Source of the irradiator © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Platform description

​The irradiator

The MICADO Lab platform is located at the Cadarache site (France).

It consists of an air-conditioned irradiation hall measuring 4 m in width, 35 m in length and 5 m in height, which is able to accommodate experimental equipment suitable for the exposure of different biological models (cell cultures, plants and animals).


Four 137Cs sources are used to irradiate organisms at dose rates ranging from 5 µGy/h to 100 mGy/h

 

Dose-Micado.jpg 

Range of dose rates in MICADO Lab (estimate based on the MCNP code). High dose rate (red > 100 mGy/h), moderate dose rate (green from 1 to 10 mGy/h), low dose rate (blue < 0.1 mGy/h). 
 

The irradiation period of between a few hours and several weeks means that chronic exposure of one or more generations can be carried out.

MICADO Lab has links to a cellular biology laboratory and an analysis platform consisting of physiology, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry and microscopy laboratories, which are essential for characterising radiation-induced effects at different biological levels.

 

Animal housing facility

MICADO Lab is also linked to fish and invertebrate breeding facilities. The species routinely used at the Radionuclide Ecotoxicology Laboratory (LECO) are the zebrafish Danio rerio, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the daphnid Daphnia magna.

The first two species are animal models traditionally used in genetics, toxicology and/or evolutionary biology. Their genomes have been fully sequenced and many genetic engineering tools are available; in parallel, their physiology and biology have been completely characterised.

The micro-crustacean Daphnia magna is an omnipresent environmental bioindicator in freshwater and is commonly used in ecotoxicology.

 

​Nicolas Dubourg in the control room and view of the experimental hall. © IRSN/ Francesco Acerbis

Platform description

Platform description
​Nicolas Dubourg in the control room and view of the experimental hall. © IRSN/ Francesco Acerbis

​The irradiator

The MICADO Lab platform is located at the Cadarache site (France).

It consists of an air-conditioned irradiation hall measuring 4 m in width, 35 m in length and 5 m in height, which is able to accommodate experimental equipment suitable for the exposure of different biological models (cell cultures, plants and animals).


Four 137Cs sources are used to irradiate organisms at dose rates ranging from 5 µGy/h to 100 mGy/h

 

Dose-Micado.jpg 

Range of dose rates in MICADO Lab (estimate based on the MCNP code). High dose rate (red > 100 mGy/h), moderate dose rate (green from 1 to 10 mGy/h), low dose rate (blue < 0.1 mGy/h). 
 

The irradiation period of between a few hours and several weeks means that chronic exposure of one or more generations can be carried out.

MICADO Lab has links to a cellular biology laboratory and an analysis platform consisting of physiology, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry and microscopy laboratories, which are essential for characterising radiation-induced effects at different biological levels.

 

Animal housing facility

MICADO Lab is also linked to fish and invertebrate breeding facilities. The species routinely used at the Radionuclide Ecotoxicology Laboratory (LECO) are the zebrafish Danio rerio, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the daphnid Daphnia magna.

The first two species are animal models traditionally used in genetics, toxicology and/or evolutionary biology. Their genomes have been fully sequenced and many genetic engineering tools are available; in parallel, their physiology and biology have been completely characterised.

The micro-crustacean Daphnia magna is an omnipresent environmental bioindicator in freshwater and is commonly used in ecotoxicology.

 

Comparison of MICADO Lab and other European facilities

Micado-Comparaison-ENG.jpg

 

MICADO’Lab offers unique exposure conditions that complement the conditions offered by other European facilities, particularly in terms of the radiation energy and the range of dose rates that can be applied.

In particular, it allows dose rates that are below the predicted no effect dose rate for ecosystems.

A microdosimeter is fixed on each aquarium © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Comparison of MICADO Lab and other European facilities

Comparison of MICADO Lab and other European facilities
A microdosimeter is fixed on each aquarium © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Micado-Comparaison-ENG.jpg

 

MICADO’Lab offers unique exposure conditions that complement the conditions offered by other European facilities, particularly in terms of the radiation energy and the range of dose rates that can be applied.

In particular, it allows dose rates that are below the predicted no effect dose rate for ecosystems.

​Thomas Munch, student in Master 2 and trainee in the laboratory, is taking an aquarium © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis
​Thomas Munch, student in Master 2 and trainee in the laboratory, is taking an aquarium © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis
​A zebrafish in an aquarium  © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis
​A zebrafish in an aquarium  © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Research axes

​Four main research axes have been developed using the MICADO’Lab facility, and these will be complemented by collaborative research within European projects.

Axis 1: evaluation of ionising radiation effects from biomolecule to individual level

The studies aim to characterize relevant biomarkers for predicting the effects of ionising radiation on the main biological functions sustaining population dynamics (links between proteins/reproduction and survival in the ISATIS project, links between genomes and epigenomes/embryonic development (EpiTox project), reproduction (ReproTox project) and neurogenesis (MENINGES project)).

 

Axis 2: transgenerational impact and adaptation mechanisms

This axis aims to identify the mechanisms that govern transgenerational effects (heritability, adaptation), a major issue for ecosystems chronically exposed to ionising radiation. The role played by mutations and epigenetic changes is studied in different organisms that use clonal reproduction (in daphnids in the EpiDaph project) or are hermaphrodites (in the nematode C. elegans in the 3E-Gen project), for exposure periods ranging respectively from 4 to more than 30 generations (REPERE project).

 

Axis 3: species radiosensitivity and interspecific variability

This axis aims to better characterise the key mechanisms governing species radiosensitivity, since this is one of the pillars of ecological protection, which is holistic by nature. The approach is based on species metabolism (EMERIC project).

 

Axis 4: effects of ionising radiation on ecosystemic functions

This axis looks at the sustainability of ecosystem structure and functions, based on an integrative approach analysing organic matter decomposition processes (IDILIC project).

 

​Olivier Simon, engineer-researcher in the Radionuclide Ecotoxicology Laboratory (Leco) of the IRSN and Thomas Munch, student of Master 2 and trainee, sample and transfer zebrafish larvae for observation © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Research axes

Research axes
​Olivier Simon, engineer-researcher in the Radionuclide Ecotoxicology Laboratory (Leco) of the IRSN and Thomas Munch, student of Master 2 and trainee, sample and transfer zebrafish larvae for observation © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

​Four main research axes have been developed using the MICADO’Lab facility, and these will be complemented by collaborative research within European projects.

Axis 1: evaluation of ionising radiation effects from biomolecule to individual level

The studies aim to characterize relevant biomarkers for predicting the effects of ionising radiation on the main biological functions sustaining population dynamics (links between proteins/reproduction and survival in the ISATIS project, links between genomes and epigenomes/embryonic development (EpiTox project), reproduction (ReproTox project) and neurogenesis (MENINGES project)).

 

Axis 2: transgenerational impact and adaptation mechanisms

This axis aims to identify the mechanisms that govern transgenerational effects (heritability, adaptation), a major issue for ecosystems chronically exposed to ionising radiation. The role played by mutations and epigenetic changes is studied in different organisms that use clonal reproduction (in daphnids in the EpiDaph project) or are hermaphrodites (in the nematode C. elegans in the 3E-Gen project), for exposure periods ranging respectively from 4 to more than 30 generations (REPERE project).

 

Axis 3: species radiosensitivity and interspecific variability

This axis aims to better characterise the key mechanisms governing species radiosensitivity, since this is one of the pillars of ecological protection, which is holistic by nature. The approach is based on species metabolism (EMERIC project).

 

Axis 4: effects of ionising radiation on ecosystemic functions

This axis looks at the sustainability of ecosystem structure and functions, based on an integrative approach analysing organic matter decomposition processes (IDILIC project).

 

​Zebrafish larvae  © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis
​Zebrafish larvae  © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis

Facility specifications

​​Irradiation sources: 137Cs Total radioactivity: 444 GBqPossible dose rates: 5 µGy/h to 10 mGy/hPossible irradiation period: a few hours to several monthsExperiment hall: 4 m (width) x 35 m (length) x 5m (height)Lighting and temperature controlled according to the ecosystem being studiedFish housing facility and invertebrate breeding facilitySpecies routinely used: the fish Danio rerio, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the daphnid Daphnia magna
​The experimental hall seen from the top of the irradiation platform © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis 
Facility specifications
​The experimental hall seen from the top of the irradiation platform © IRSN/Francesco Acerbis 

Facility specifications

​​Irradiation sources: 137Cs Total radioactivity: 444 GBqPossible dose rates: 5 µGy/h to 10 mGy/hPossible irradiation period: a few hours to several monthsExperiment hall: 4 m (width) x 35 m (length) x 5m (height)Lighting and temperature controlled according to the ecosystem being studiedFish housing facility and invertebrate breeding facilitySpecies routinely used: the fish Danio rerio, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans and the daphnid Daphnia magna