Investigation of Acute and Chronic Toxicity Trends of Pesticides Using High-Throughput Bioluminescence Assay Based on the Test Organism Vibrio fischeri

  • Paul Westlund
  • Deniz Nasuhoglu
  • Siavash Isazadeh
  • Viviane Yargeau


High-throughput acute and chronic toxicity tests using Vibrio fischeri were used to assess the toxicity of a variety of fungicides, herbicides, and neonicotinoids. The use of time points beyond the traditional 30 min of an acute test highlighted the sensitivity and applicability of the chronic toxicity test and indicated that for some compounds toxicity is underestimated using only the acute test. The comparison of EC50 values obtained from acute and chronic tests provided insight regarding the toxicity mode of action, either being direct or indirect. Using a structure–activity relationship approach similar to the one used in hazard assessments, the relationship between toxicity and key physicochemical properties of pesticides was investigated and trends were identified. This study not only provides new information regarding acute toxicity of some pesticides but also is one of the first studies to investigate the chronic toxicity of pesticides using the test organism V. fischeri. The findings demonstrated that the initial bioluminescence has a large effect on the calculated effective concentrations for target compounds in both acute and chronic tests, providing a way to improve and standardize the test protocol. In addition, the findings emphasize the need for additional investigation regarding the relationship between a toxicant’s physicochemical properties and mode of action in nontarget organisms.



Funding for this study was provided by a research grant to Viviane Yargeau (PI) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada through the Discovery Grant Program (RGPIN/04635-2015) and by the McGill Engineering Doctoral Award (MEDA).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 488 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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