Effects of atrazine on freshwater microbial communities
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- Pratt, J.R., Bowers, N.J., Niederlehner, B.R. et al. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. (1988) 17: 449. doi:10.1007/BF01055510
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A multispecies toxicity test system using naturally derived microbial communities on polyurethane foam substrates was used to evaluate the toxic effects of the herbicide atrazine. Both structural (e.g., protozoan species number, biomass) and functional (e.g., colonization rate, oxygen production) community responses were measured. Oxygen production and the ability of communities to sequester magnesium and calcium were the most sensitive measures of toxic stress due to atrazine (maximum allowable toxicant concentrations [MATCs]=17.9 μg/L). Dissolved oxygen was 33% lower, and there was 15% less calcium and magnesium in communities at and above 32.0 μg/L atrazine compared to controls. Species richness and estimates of biomass (total protein and chlorophyll a) were less sensitive (MATCs=193) to atrazine. At the highest atrazine concentration (337 μg/L), species numbers were 30% lower than controls, and protein and chlorophyll a content of communities were reduced by 38 and 91%, respectively. Low levels of atrazine (3.2–32.0 μg/L) resulted in a 46% increase in species numbers and a greater concentration of total protein and chlorophyll a (41 and 57%, respectively). Results compared well with other estimates of chronic toxicity for effects of atrazine on aquatic communities. Reported MATCs ranged from 70.7 to 3,400 μg/L. The results from this test emphasize the importance of monitoring both structural and functional measures of community integrity in toxicity testing with multispecies.