The Chemistry laboratory is a research facility accredited by the Romanian Accreditation Association – RENAR since 2006 for Conformity assessment standard: SR EN ISO/CEI 17025:2005 (Accreditation Certificate No. LI 434, valid until 2018). The Chemistry Laboratory conducts 7 accredited activities by RENAR, as follows: Molecular absorption spectrometry (UVVIS), Cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry (CVAAS), Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), Assessments by gravimetric methods, Assessments by volumetric methods, Assessments by electrochemical methods, Gas chromatography from all sample types (surface water, groundwater, wastewater, soil/sediment, aquatic vegetation, fish and fish products). To ensure the quality of assessments the Chemistry Laboratory is a participant in national and international inter-laboratory comparison schemes. Comparison tests are an independent quality assurance of the assessments and calibrations as described in SR EN ISO/ CEI 17025: 2005. The Chemistry Laboratory is organized into 4 specific units:
The Hydrobiology Laboratory provides vast expertise in aquatic ecology and waterbody ecological status assessments in conformity with the EU Water Framework Directive. Through its members, the Laboratory of Hydrobiology conducts research activities focused on the structure and functionality of the planktonic communities (phyto- and zooplankton), macroinvertebrates and species-environment relationships. Ever since the establishment of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, the laboratory members have been involved in common research projects aimed at developing proper water quality monitoring programs. In the 90’s, only two taxonomical groups were covered: zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. Subsequently, the team’s expertise was expanded, adding to their research topics also phytoplankton and phytobenthos. In 2006, a significant number of the lab’s personnel took part in an international team of experts that worked to develop indicators and methods for ecological status assessments in conformity with the EU Water Framework Directive. Over time a hydro-biological database, regarding phytoplankton, zooplankton and macroinvertebrate community composition and species abundance, emerged. This database, thanks to its scale and level of detail represents the bedrock for further research projects and a frame of reference for other research teams in the institute.
Genetic and Molecular Ecology Laboratory
The Genetic and Molecular Ecology Laboratory has a 32-year-long tradition, during which genetic approaches such as cytogenetics, population genetics and molecular phylogeny have been applied to various fish species. The name of the lab and the applied approaches have evolved over time, in synchrony with the evolution of genetic techniques. In recent years, laboratory members have expanded their expertise by also addressing other taxa from the Danube Delta. The DDNI’s attention to genetic aspects of research was first embodied in 1985 when the Fish Cytogenetics Laboratory was established. Initially, the main research topics of the lab were aimed at karyotyping and karyotype investigations of freshwater fish species such as Acipenser stellatus, Misgurnus fossilis, Barbus barbus, Scardinius erythrophthalmus, etc.
Later, in 2000, in accordance with advances in molecular biology techniques, DDNI established the molecular biology laboratory. Furthermore, special consideration was given to the Lower Danube sturgeon species through close collaboration with the Sturgeon Research Group (SRG). During the past decades there has been great progress worldwide in molecular biology research on sturgeons. Knowledge regarding the genetic variability of sturgeons from the Danube River basin, the last wild self-sustaining sturgeon population in the European Union, has gradually increased every year. The preliminary studies on the genetic structure of sturgeon populations of the Danube River were conducted in collaboration with the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since then, the genetics and molecular ecology team has focused on:
- Identification of species, populations and interspecies hybrids;
- Studying the genetic diversity and population structure;
- Isolation and sequencing of new sturgeon genetic markers for phylogenetic studies.
Since the beginning of 2015, the Genetic and Molecular Ecology Laboratory has expanded its expertise, covering several genetic aspects of colonial waterbirds from the Danube Delta.
Enisala Research Station
The Enisala Research Station is a remote facility in the eastern part of Enisala village, in the Sarichioi commune. Ever since 1939, the former Danube Delta hydro-biological station from Tulcea has been in Enisala. The research station is located on a channel that links Babadag Lake to the Rasim Laguna, as a pike-perch) spawning station designed to annually supplement the lagoon with juveniles. Due to its connectivity with the Danube River in the beginning of the last century (via two channels: Dunavăț and Dranov), the Rasim-Sinoe Complex became the largest natural reservoir of freshwater fish species in Romania. Among all the lagoon fish species, the pike perch has the highest commercial value, being one of the major export products of Romania. The Rasim-Sinoe Complex pike perch productivity is mainly dependent on the production of embryonated eggs in the Enisala Research Station. Since 1970, this activity was taken up and developed by the DDNI. Over time, international cooperation allow us to expand the scope of the research station, enabling staff and student mobility from different Romanian institutions and even from other countries such as the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Italy and the Netherlands.