A Senior Lecturer of IMU‘s Division of Applied Biomedical Science and Biotechnology (ABSB), Dr Kok Yih Yih and her research group has been awarded a research grant by Yayasan Penyelidikan Antartika Sultan Mizan (YPASM) under the Smart Partnership Initiative amounting to RM 135,000. Her research project is entitled ‘Influence of Polyethylene Micro- and Nano Plastic on the Combined Toxicity of Copper and Lead in Antarctic Microalgae based on a Suite of Biomarkers and Transcriptomic Profiles’.
Her team consists of both local and international researchers, namely Dr Wong Chiew Yen (IMU), Dr Tan Boon Keat (IMU), Prof Emeritus Dr Phang Siew Moi (UCSI University, University Malaya), A/Prof Dr Siti Aqlima Ahmad (University Putra Malaysia), A/Prof Dr Azham Zulkarnain (Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan) and Prof Dr Peter Convey (British Antarctic Survey, United Kingdom).
Due to human activities, Antarctica is not protected from heavy metal and plastic pollution despite its remote location. Hence, in this project, Dr Kok would like to apply biotechnological methods to investigate how the emerging pollutants, namely polyethylene (PE) microplastics (MP) and nanoplastics (NP), may influence the joint toxicity of copper (Cu) and lead (Pb) in Antarctic microalgae – the key primary producers in food webs. The findings of this study may contribute to the development of a benchmark for risk assessment of MP/NP, Cu and Pb in the Antarctic and other extreme ecosystems, as these pollutants are not part of the current Water Quality Criteria and Standards.