Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 179, Issue 1–4, pp 113–121 | Cite as

The potential of the Phytotoxkit microbiotest for hazard evaluation of sediments in eutrophic freshwater ecosystems

Open Access


The applicability of the Phytotoxkit microbiotest for toxicity assessment of sediments in eutrophic freshwater ecosystems was evaluated. Sediments were collected from Turawa dam reservoir (southwestern Poland) which, for years, has been subjected to a marked nutrient enrichment and heavy metal contamination. The test plant species were exposed to whole sediments, solid phases of sediments, and pore waters. Phytotoxicity was estimated on the basis of seed germination and root elongation measurements, combined into an overall germination index (GI). For pore waters, the majority of GI values were not statistically different from the controls, which was consistent with chemical data. For solid phases and whole sediments, GI values showed diversified effects ranging from growth stimulation to growth inhibition. The results obtained vary depending on the plant species and the type of sediment samples. Generally, tests with solid phases of sediments showed phytostimulation, suggesting that higher amount of nutrients adsorbed on organic matter-rich sediments might conceal the inhibitory impact of heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb, and Zn). However, this beneficial impact is indicative of a significant nutrient load and, with respect to aquatic ecosystems, its potential resuspention that might accelerate the reservoir eutrophication. Under appropriate conditions heavy metals exerted stronger negative impact on plants. Tests with whole sediments had a higher acidity (pH 5.85) and showed adverse effects, though plant responses vary from inhibition (Lepidium sativum) to stimulation (Sorghum saccharatum). The study demonstrated variability in toxicity of contaminated nutrient-rich sediments as well as effectiveness and usefulness of the Phytotoxkit microbiotest as a practical and reliable tool for evaluation of the hazard of eutrophic ecosystems to higher plants.


Nutrient-rich sediments Heavy metals Phytotoxicity Microbiotest 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Land ProtectionUniversity of OpoleOpolePoland

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