Evaluation of an automated luminescent bacteria assay for in situ aquatic toxicity determination

A new system for monitoring toxicity TOXcontrol® (MicroLAN BV, The Netherlands) has been used to assess the toxicity of a selection of priority or emergent compounds in the laboratory. In this study, inhibition curves and EC50 – Effective Concentration causing 50% inhibition – of selected compounds (including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, surfactants and metals commonly detected in surface or drinking waters) were determined. This new technology is based on the measurement of Vibrio fischeri bioluminescence inhibition (ISO 11348).

Toxicity determination

The main advantage of this equipment, compared to other laboratory assays, is the fully automation of the procedure. The instrument can be operated online in a simple, rapid and reproducible way. The variability of the results obtained with the TOXcontrol® biomonitoring system has been studied. A comparison with standardised technology based in V. fischeri (Microtox®) and additional test with Daphnia magna for selecte organic compounds is presented. The results show that the methodology based on the TOXcontrol® system being validated is accurate and reproducible enough enabling this system to be used as an on-line automatic alert system to detect abnormal concentrations of toxic compounds.

Lack of bacterial absorption means common pharmaceuticals retain potential to cause damage in aquatic environments