Towards a multi-bioassay-based index for toxicity assessment of fluvial waters

  • Lalit K. Pandey
  • Isabelle Lavoie
  • Soizic Morin
  • Stephen Depuydt
  • Jie Lyu
  • Hojun Lee
  • Jinho Jung
  • Dong-Hyuk Yeom
  • Taejun Han
  • Jihae ParkEmail author


Despite their proven reliability for revealing ‘acceptable’ degrees of toxicity in waste- and reclaimed waters, bioassays are rarely used to assess the toxicity of hazardous contaminants present in natural waters. In this study, we used organisms from different trophic levels to assess the toxicity of water samples collected from four different South Korean rivers. The main objective was to develop a multi-descriptor index of toxicity for undiluted river water. The responses of six test organisms (Aliivibrio fischeri, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, Heterocypris incongruens, Moina macrocopa, Danio rerio and Lemna minor) after laboratory exposure to water samples were considered for this index, as well as the frequency of teratologies in diatom assemblages. Each individual test was attributed a toxicity class and score (three levels; no toxicity = 0, low toxicity = 1, confirmed toxicity = 2) based on the organism’s response after exposure and a total score was calculated. The proposed index also considers the number of test organisms that received the highest toxicity score (value = 2). An overall toxicity category was then attributed to the water sample based on those two metrics: A = no toxicity, B = slight toxicity, C = moderate toxicity; D = toxicity and E = high toxicity. The susceptibility of the test organisms varied greatly and the sensitivity of their response also differed among bioassays. The combined responses of organisms from different trophic levels and with different life strategies provided multi-level diagnostic information about the intensity and the nature of contamination.


Aquatic plants Bioassay Biological indicators Microorganisms Multi-descriptor index Multiple endpoints Receiving water 



This work was partly supported by Post-Doctor Research Program (2016) through Incheon National University and Industrial Strategic Technology Development Program (Grant No. 10079956) funded by the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy. We are grateful to Dr. J.C. Taylor (North-West University, South Africa) for his generous donation of Pleurax and to Emilie Saulnier-Talbot for valuable comments on the manuscript and for English revision.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lalit K. Pandey
    • 1
    • 2
  • Isabelle Lavoie
    • 3
  • Soizic Morin
    • 4
  • Stephen Depuydt
    • 5
  • Jie Lyu
    • 6
  • Hojun Lee
    • 7
  • Jinho Jung
    • 8
  • Dong-Hyuk Yeom
    • 9
  • Taejun Han
    • 7
    • 10
  • Jihae Park
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Green Environmental Research CenterIncheonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Applied SciencesMJP Rohilkhand UniversityBareillyIndia
  3. 3.Institut national de la recherche scientifique, centre Eau Terre EnvironnementQuébec CityCanada
  4. 4.Irstea, UR EABXCestas CedexFrance
  5. 5.Lab of Plant Growth AnalysisGhent University Global CampusIncheonRepublic of Korea
  6. 6.Department of Life SciencesJilin Normal UniversitySiping CityChina
  7. 7.Department of Marine SciencesIncheon National UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  8. 8.Division of Environmental Science & Ecological EngineeringKorea UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  9. 9.Ecotoxicology TeamKorea Institute of ToxicologyDaejeonSouth Korea
  10. 10.Ghent University Global CampusIncheonSouth Korea

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