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Changes in yield ofin-vivo fluorescence of chlorophyll a as a tool for selective herbicide monitoring


Triazines and derivatives of phenylurea, which are often found in outdoor water samples, induce specific changes in the yield of thein-vivo chlorophyll α-fluorescence of PSII. These changes are correlated quantitatively with the concentration of the herbicides and can therefore be used to set-up a low-price monitor system. In order to detect selectively the herbicide-sensitive part of the fluorescence emission a pulse amplitude modulated fluorimeter was used. The bioassay system was optimised with respect to test organism, growing and measuring conditions. The relationship between fluorescence yield and herbicide concentrations were experimentally determined for the triazines atrazine and simazine and the phenylurea herbicide DCMU and mathematically fitted (r=0.99). The I50-values were 0.9 µM for DCMU, 2.2 µM for simazine and 3.3 µM for atrazine. The detection limit of about 0.5 µM clearly shows that the sensitivity of this bioassay system is too low to reach the requirements of the drinking water regulation. However, due to its insensitivity against complex water matrices, there is good hope to combine this fluorometric bioassay with a potent herbicide preconcentration method like a solid-phase extraction procedure.

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F m :

maximal fluorescence

Fo :

minimal fluorescence

F o :

variable fluorescence


gas chromatography


High performance liquid chromatography


mass spectroscopy


pulse-amplitude-modulated fluorometer


photosystem II


non-photochemical quenching

I50 :

concentration required for 50% inhibition of electron transport


carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazon


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Conrad, R., Büchel, C., Wilhelm, C. et al. Changes in yield ofin-vivo fluorescence of chlorophyll a as a tool for selective herbicide monitoring. J Appl Phycol 5, 505–516 (1993).

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Key words

  • fluorescence
  • bioassay
  • PSII herbicides
  • algae
  • triazines
  • phenylureas