Bacterial and Enzymatic Bioassays for Toxicity Testing in the Environment

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More than 50,000 chemicals, most of which are xenobiotics, are in common use and new ones are continually and regularly added to the inventory. Serious concern has been raised over the release of these xenobiotics or their metabolites (Liu et al. 1990) into the environment. Their deleterious effect on the environment can be assessed via acute and chronic toxicity tests, using mostly fish and invertebrate bioassays (Peltier and Weber 1985). However, due to the large number of chemicals to be tested, ecotoxicologists and environmental scientists and engineers are now using short-term toxicity assays which are mostly based on inhibition of the activity of enzymes, bacteria, fungi, algae, and protozoa (Bitton 1983; Bitton and Dutka 1986; Dutka and Bitton 1986; Bitton et al. 1989; Liu and Dutka 1984). Microbial bioassays have been used for screening the toxicity of wastewater effluents and for monitoring the quality of reclaimed water (Grabow et al. 1985).