Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 228:333 | Cite as

Water Quality and Toxicological Impact Assessment Using the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans Bioassay in a Long-Term Intensive Agricultural Area

  • Araceli Clavijo
  • Ariana Rossen
  • Daniel Calvo
  • María Florencia Kronberg
  • Aldana Moya
  • Eduardo Antonio Pagano
  • Eliana R. Munarriz


Due to intensive agricultural activities to meet the growing needs for food, large volumes of water are consumed and an increasing amount of agrochemicals are released into the environment threatening the aquatic ecosystem. In order to ensure a sustainable agricultural management, it is crucial to develop an integrated water assessment plan that includes not only water quantity and quality but also toxicological assessments. The Pergamino River basin (province of Buenos Aires, Argentina) was selected as a representative case of study to monitor and assess the impact of both the long-term intensification of soybean production and fast-growing urban development on surface and groundwater sources. Physicochemical analyses and a Water Quality Index were determined and showed that water quality falls into the marginal category, compromising the irrigation purposes and threatening aquatic life. Glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid were detected at least once in all sites. Caenorhabditis elegans toxic bioassays were performed and a toxicological ranking was developed. This analysis proved to be useful to detect toxicity even when water parameters met regulatory requirements and water quality seemed to be satisfactory. This research constitutes a valuable model to be replicated in other river basins that have been impacted by intensive agriculture and growing urban development in order to assess water quality conditions and ensure sound water resources management.


Environmental toxicology Water characterization Glyphosate Agriculture Pergamino 



This study has been financially supported by the Argentina’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation through the National Agency for the Promotion of Science and Technology. These institutions awarded Dr. Munarriz (grants: PICT-PRH 2014/0002 and PICT 2014/3293) and Dr. Pagano (grant: ANPCyT-PID 0032/2011). We are especially grateful to Veronica Feuring, Alina Crelier, and Silvina Monti from the Biochemistry Department, Agronomy School of University of Buenos Aires, for their technical assistance. Also, we would like to thank Santiago Valdés, José Antonio Morábito, Priva Braunfeld, and Miryam Pikeris from the National Water Institute for critically reviewing the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11270_2017_3512_MOESM1_ESM.docx (276 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 275 kb).


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones en Biociencias Agrícolas y AmbientalesConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) - Universidad de Buenos AiresCABAArgentina
  2. 2.Cátedra de Bioquímica, Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos AiresCABAArgentina
  3. 3.Laboratorio Experimental de Tecnologías SustentablesInstituto Nacional del AguaPcia. Buenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Dirección de Servicios HidrológicosInstituto Nacional del AguaPcia. Buenos AiresArgentina
  5. 5.Cátedra de Protección Vegetal, Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos AiresCABAArgentina

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