Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 381–400

Literature review on higher plants for toxicity testing

  • Wuncheng Wang

DOI: 10.1007/BF00211845

Cite this article as:
Wang, W. Water Air Soil Pollut (1991) 59: 381. doi:10.1007/BF00211845


Phytotoxicity tests using higher plants in general are infrequently used as a part of ecotoxicology. Many reports assess herbicide toxicity merely on the basis of faunal species tests. This is inadequate because the herbicide impact is much greater on flora than on fauna. Environmental pollution by herbicides was likely to have been quite wide-spread during the past years (1964–1984) when the use of herbicides grew five-fold. When herbicides reach non-target areas, they can cause unacceptable harm to non-target species, plants in particular. The toxicity of herbicides to algal species is not likely to be identical to that of higher plants, so that algal species may not serve as a surrogate species for the toxicity evaluation. Currently there are two promising phytotoxicity tests. Common duckweed is an aquatic species and sensitive to toxicity. Duckweek test can be used with static, renewal, or flow-through methods. The latter two are especially useful for unstable compounds or samples. Seed germination and root elongation tests are versatile and can be tested in water, wastewater, sediment, and slurry. Many recent activities in these areas suggest that phytotoxicity tests are a valuable part of ecotoxicology.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wuncheng Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois State Water SurveyPeoriaU.S.A.