Phytoplankton bioassays have been used as biological tools in assessing environmental impact from contaminants. Series of experiments were designed to measure the acute and sublethal effects of heavy metals (tributyltin, copper, and zinc) and storm drain effluent on the light output from marine bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Pyrocystis lunula in earlier experiments and Gonyaulax polyedra in later experiments). Cultured cells were exposed to various concentrations of a metal or storm drain effluent from hours up to 11 days. Measurable differences in light output have been observed in as little as 3 h when compared to control cells.
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