STP802

    An Efficient Algal Bioassay Based on Short-Term Photosynthetic Response

    Published: Jan 1983


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    Abstract

    A procedure is described for measuring the effects of toxicants on algal photosynthesis [carbon-14 bicarbonate (H14CO3) uptake] in 4-h experiments. The results for individual aromatic compounds and the water-soluble fraction (WSF) of a synthetic oil are presented as examples of applications of the bioassay. The toxicity of the WSF varied among the seven algal species tested, and the responses of some species were pH-dependent. With Selenastrum capricornutum as the test organism, the bioassay results were unaffected by variations in pH from 7.0 to 9.0, light intensity from 40 to 200 μeinsteins m−2s−1, culture density up to 0.5 mg chlorophyll a per litre, and agitation up to 100 rpm. The photosynthesis bioassay is simpler and faster (4 h versus 4 to 14 days), uses smaller culture volumes, and requires less space than static culture-growth tests. One person can conveniently test four materials per day, and the entire procedure, including preparation, exposure, and analysis, takes less than two days. The short incubation time reduces bottle effects such as pH changes, accumulation of metabolic products, nutrient depletion, and bacterial growth. Processes that remove or alter the test materials are also minimized. The data presented here indicate that algal photosynthesis is inhibited at toxicant concentrations similar to those that cause acute effects in aquatic animals. A model of a pelagic ecosystem is used to demonstrate that even temporary (seven-day) inhibition of algal photosynthesis can have a measurable impact on other trophic levels, particularly if the other trophic levels are also experiencing toxic effects.

    Keywords:

    bioassay, algae, toxicity, photosynthesis, aromatics, synthetic fuels, ecosystem models, aquatic toxicology, hazard assessment


    Author Information:

    Giddings, JM
    Research staff member, postdoctoral research fellow, senior ecologist, and research staff member, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

    Stewart, AJ
    Research staff member, postdoctoral research fellow, senior ecologist, and research staff member, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

    O'Neill, RV
    Research staff member, postdoctoral research fellow, senior ecologist, and research staff member, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

    Gardner, RH
    Research staff member, postdoctoral research fellow, senior ecologist, and research staff member, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN


    Paper ID: STP33522S

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.01

    DOI: 10.1520/STP33522S


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