Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Dr. Rob Middag

Senior Scientist
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 410
Ocean Systems (OCS)
Senior Scientist


  • Trace Metals
  • Marine biogeochemical cycles
  • Chemical oceanography
  • ICP-MS
  • Role of metals in marine ecosystems

Research interest & specialisation

My research focusses on the role of metals in marine ecosystems. Though often solely regarded as toxins, metals are required as nutrients for the growth of all organisms. Metals form the reactive centres of enzymes, enabling these to perform biochemical functions, such as oxygen-transport or photosynthesis. As such, trace metals are central to the health of individual organisms as well as entire ecosystems. On the other hand, elevated concentrations of metals can have detrimental effect to individual organisms as well as ecosystems and this double sided nature of metals is what inspires my research. Specific research foci:
    •    Determination of trace elements in seawater samples to establish drivers (trace nutrients) or stressors in marine ecosystems. Especially in the (sub)Antarctic regions, trace metal availability regulates primary production. The role of iron is well established, but the role of other metals is becoming more evident as well.
    •     Development and application of ICP-MS based and flow injection methods for the analysis of trace elements in sea water to expand our capabilities to determine levels of trace nutrient levels, contaminants as well as tracers of ocean processes.
    •    Trace metal clean bio assays to assess trace nutrient stress.
    •    Ultra clean sampling of open ocean regions for trace elements; to get reliable data on trace elements and their functions in ecosystems, utmost care must be taken during sampling and sample handling to avoid contamination. 


Linked news

Thursday 16 March 2017
Sea Acceptance Test Confirms Quality of NIOZ ‘Pristine’ Ultra Clean CTD
In March 2017, a Sea Acceptance Test (SAT) of the ‘Pristine’ Ultra Clean CTD-system (UCC) was successfully carried out on board of the South Korean research vessel ‘Isabu’, sailing from Guam in the Pacific Ocean near the Mariana-trench. This system…
Monday 06 February 2017
Kleine wezens, groot effect op het oceaanleven
Kiezelwieren zijn klein maar o zo belangrijk voor het zeeleven in de Zuidelijke Oceaan: door hun enorme biomassa bepalen ze de verdeling van voedingsstoffen en sporenelementen rond Antarctica. Een internationale groep onderzoekers toont dit aan in…

Linked blogs

Wednesday 21 February 2018
Antarctic expedition FePhyrus
Wat hebben ijzer en virus-infecties in Antarctica met elkaar te maken? We zijn op expeditie in de kustgebieden van West-Antarctica om dit uit te zoeken. Volg onze avonturen via deze blog! ~~~~ English version below ~~~~
Friday 18 August 2017
Expedition STRATIPHYT-17
An ad-hoc cruise where an interdisciplinary team will build on earlier obtained knowledge during the STRATIPHYT project, but where we will also investigate new ideas, and collect samples for others that cannot join the cruise. The team consists of 3…

NIOZ publications

Linked projects

FePhyrus_Iron limitation and viral lysis, phytoplankton caught between a rock and a hard place
Rob Middag
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 May 2017 - 30 Apr 2021