SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1990

A Plant Toxicity Test with the Moss (Hedw.) B.S.G.


A method for detecting toxicity to a representative primary producer was developed and tested using the moss Physcomitrella patens (Hedw.) B.S.G. Cultures of the moss were maintained on solid minimal medium in a growth chamber with a day length of 17 h and a temperature of 23 ± 1°C. Two stages of the moss life cycle (spore and gametophore) were cultured for five weeks in the laboratory while being exposed to various toxic treatments.

Cultures were exposed separately to six different salt solutions (aluminum sulfate, barium chloride, boric acid, cadmium chloride, cobalt chloride, and lead nitrate), a mineralized-acidic leachate, and a coal combustion fly ash leachate. After five weeks' exposure, morphological changes, dry weight, chlorophylls a and b, and total chlorophyll measurements were used as criteria to reflect dose-effect relationships.

Regenerating clones were frequently morphologically aberrant, and no regenerants were observed at higher concentrations of most treatments. Increasing toxicant concentrations generally reduced the dry weight and chlorophyll contents of moss cultures (P ⩽ 0.05). No significant differences in response variables between spore and gametophore cultures were found, and dose-linked changes in fresh weight were similar to those for dry weight.

Cadium chloride and aluminum sulfate treatments had the most negative influence on moss dry weight and chlorophyll content; boric acid and barium chloride concentrations were the least toxic. The fly ash leachate did not appear to be toxic, possibly due to antagonistic chemical interactions in the fly ash/limestone scrubber leachate treatments.

Author Information

Morgan, EL
Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN
Wu, Y-CA
Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN
Young, RC
Young-Morgan & Associates, Inc., Franklin, TN
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 267–279
DOI: 10.1520/STP19069S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5148-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1397-8