It has been demonstrated that cyanobacterial viruses (cyanophages) arise in sewage treatment and are present in streams receiving treated sewage. While algae alone are often proposed for toxicity assessment, the method presented here uses the cyanophage/host interaction, thus bringing the assay into the realm of molecular biology. Examples of its application to water, sewage, and sludge treatment, to high nitrate, to herbicides and viricides, and to composts support its value for initial screening or first-tier toxicity assay. Its ability to deal with principles and mechanisms at the molecular level and to incorporate progress in DNA and protein methodologies adds to its significance and utility at higher levels of toxicity assessment.
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