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Image: Kristina Viklund

Halogenated natural products (HNPs) in Nordic marine ecosystems

Research project Objectives of this project are to identify factors which influence the formation of halogenated natural products (HNPs) in Nordic coastal ecosystems and predict how their levels and transport pathways might be affected by climate change.

Head of project

Terry Frank Bidleman
Professor emeritus

Project overview

Project period:

2016-01-01 2022-12-31



Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Chemistry, Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå Marine Sciences Centre (UMF)

Research area

Chemical sciences, Ecology, Environmental chemistry, Marine science

Project description

Halogenated natural products (HNPs) are secondary metabolites containing chlorine, bromine and/or iodine. They are produced by marine bacteria, phytoplankton, macroalgae and some invertebrate animals. HNPs have many ecological functions which include chemical communication, antimicrobial and antifouling activity, and protection from herbivory and predation. They are also of concern from an environmental perspective. Halomethanes diffuse to the stratosphere where they participate in ozone destruction. Some of the higher molecular mass HNPs bioaccumulate and have toxic properties similar to those of anthropogenic chemicals.

Climate change is expected to have an impact on HNPs by shifting the environmental distribution of producing species and formation of these secondary metabolites, which will have consequences for ecosystem functioning and environmental quality.  We are investigating sources and pathways of HNPs in Nordic coastal ecosystems with the overall goal to predict climate change impacts on production and transport.

In the project we:

  • Compare HNPs in macroalgae of the northern Baltic and Atlantic coastal waters of Sweden and Norway.
  • Quantify HNPs in commercial macroalgae used for food.
  • Identify factors which contribute HNPs to Baltic estuaries.
  • Investigate sea-air-land-sea cycling of HNPs as a regional transport pathway and potential source to terrestrial ecosystems.
Latest update: 2021-03-17