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Physiological and anatomical responses of a common beach grass to crude oil pollution

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Oil pollution is one potential consequence of industry development, and oil contamination occurs in countries around the world. However, few studies have examined the detrimental effects of oil on plant anatomy. Therefore, the objectives of this study were (1) to determine the impacts of crude oil on the physiological and anatomical parameters of Ischaemum muticum L. (Poaceae) and (2) to examine its potential as a bioindicator of oil pollution. Experimental plants were treated with one of four concentrations of crude oil (1%, 2%, 3%, and 4% volume/weight) and compared to control plants (no oil applied). Four physiological and 23 anatomical parameters were measured 7, 15, 30, 45, and 60 days after treatment. Crude oil negatively affected both physiological traits (leaf width and chlorophyll content) and anatomical traits (midrib vascular bundle height, leaf cutin thickness, leaf vascular bundle width and height, abaxial and adaxial margin cutin thickness, adaxial stomata density, adaxial short cell width, and abaxial long cell width). In general, the affected traits were modified by even the lowest oil concentration tested (1%). We discuss the potential of I. muticum as a bioindicator of oil pollution, given its prevalence in coastal areas of the paleotropics and its sensitivity to oil contamination.

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We would like to thank Thailand’s Department of Mineral Fuels (Ministry of Energy) for providing the crude oil used in this study. We also thank the Physiology Lab at the Department of Plant Science, Mahidol University, for providing equipment. We are very grateful to the Plant Taxonomy and Plant Anatomy Lab members who helped with plant collection and measurements. The authors are grateful to two anonymous referees who provided valuable comments to improve our manuscript.


This research was supported by the Development and Promotion of Science and Technology Talents Project (scholarship awarded to YO) and Mahidol University (Mentorship Grant awarded to PT and ABS).

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Correspondence to Paweena Traiperm.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Olaranont, Y., Stewart, A.B. & Traiperm, P. Physiological and anatomical responses of a common beach grass to crude oil pollution. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 28075–28085 (2018).

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  • Bioindicator
  • Coastal plant
  • Ischaemum muticum
  • Leaf anatomy
  • Oil spill
  • Thailand