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Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 238–248 | Cite as

Effects of boric acid on various microbes, plants, and soil invertebrates

  • Leonie BeckerEmail author
  • Adam Scheffczyk
  • Bernhard Förster
  • Jörg Oehlmann
  • Juliska Princz
  • Jörg Römbke
  • Thomas Moser
SOILS, SEC 2 • GLOBAL CHANGE, ENVIRON RISK ASSESS, SUSTAINABLE LAND USE • RESEARCH ARTICLE

Abstract

Purpose

Terrestrial ecotoxicology includes the investigation of the impact of chemicals on soils and soil-inhabiting organisms, whereby ecotoxicological effects are mainly assessed using single-species laboratory tests. As part of laboratory testing, reference substances, with known toxicity, are regularly used to confirm the sensitivity of the cultivated test organisms over time. Furthermore, reference substances are also applied in ring test evaluations for the validation of new test methods. The present work evaluates boric acid for its suitability as a potential reference substance for tests with higher plants and soil organisms (e.g., invertebrates and microbial communities).

Materials and methods

To enhance our existing knowledge, standardized acute and chronic laboratory tests with boric acid were performed and statistically evaluated using the following organism groups: microorganisms, higher plants, nematodes, enchytraeids, earthworms, collembolans, and beetles.

Results and discussion

The results demonstrated that boric acid was amenable for use in standardized laboratory tests using a wide range of microbes, plants, and soil invertebrates. Methodological problems were not identified. In addition, several organism groups demonstrated a hormetic response that must be taken into consideration when determining appropriate test concentration ranges for the use of boric acid as a reference substance. Finally, it was clear that the sensitivity of the different test species differed by about an order of magnitude (with the exclusion of microorganisms), which seems little when considering the wide taxonomic and physiological range of the organisms tested.

Conclusions

Based on the present results boric acid can be considered as a suitable reference substance in soil ecotoxicology. It is also recommended that the suitability (i.e., sensitivity, robustness, and practicability) be proven in international ring tests.

Keywords

Boric acid Collembola Nematoda Oligochaeta Reference substance Standardized laboratory tests 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank all colleagues at ECT GmbH who helped in one way or another with the practical work in the laboratory. In particular the input of Tiago Natal da Luz for his help with the collembolan avoidance test and the information provided by Sebastian Höss on the performance of the nematode test are acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11368_2010_282_MOESM1_ESM.doc (301 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 301 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leonie Becker
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Adam Scheffczyk
    • 1
  • Bernhard Förster
    • 1
  • Jörg Oehlmann
    • 2
  • Juliska Princz
    • 3
  • Jörg Römbke
    • 1
  • Thomas Moser
    • 1
  1. 1.ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbHFlörsheimGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Ecology, Evolution and DiversityGoethe UniversityFrankfurt/MainGermany
  3. 3.Environment Canada, Biological Methods Section, Wildlife Toxicology and Disease DivisionEnvironment CanadaOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Institute of Soil Science and Soil Conservation, Research Centre for BioSystems, Land Use and Nutrition (IFZ)Justus Liebig University GiessenGiessenGermany

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