The Allium test (Levan 1938, 1949) for the detection of genotoxic effects was based on chromosome studies in root meristems of Allium cepa L. (the common onion). For the recording also of general toxic effects, examination of the longitudinal growth of roots in series of ten bulbs from each treatment was included in the test (Fiskesjö 1985a). In the present paper a standard screening of microscopic parameters is suggested, and examples are given of chromosome aberrations and of the normal appearance of root tip mitoses. The Allium test has frequently been applied as a useful tool in research, in teaching, and as a monitoring system for effects of environmental chemicals. Good correspondence has been shown with other test organisms. Relatively low cost, easy handling and excellent chromosome quality make the Allium test highly suitable as a standard among test systems for the assessment of biological risks.
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