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Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Community-level microalgal toxicity assessment by multiwavelength-excitation PAM fluorometry.


PMID 18036674

Abstract

In ecotoxicological studies involving community-level investigations, rapid and multiparametric fluorescence-based methods may provide substantial advantages over traditional methods used for structural and functional community analysis. Therefore, multiwavelength-excitation pulse-amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry was applied in this study to assess long-term changes in periphyton community structure, short-term effects on periphyton functioning (photosynthesis) and pollution induced community tolerance (PICT). For inter-calibration, periphyton structure was evaluated by chemotaxonomic analysis of accessory pigments and a four-wavelength-excitation PAM fluorometer. Short-term effects of herbicides were evaluated by fluorescence quenching analysis and (14)C-incorporation as a proxy of primary production. Subsequently, the method was applied to assess structural and functional changes in periphyton communities after isoproturon exposure for 14 and 26 days, respectively. Results showed good correlation of the PAM fluorescence-based measurements with traditional methods for biofilms in the initial colonisation phase for structural and functional parameters. However, for biofilms older than 9 weeks PAM fluorescence may underestimate biomass. Multiwavelength-excitation PAM fluorometry showed good correlation with marker pigment concentrations indicating that this method provides a reliable estimate of the community structure. PAM fluorometry was able to quantify changes of biomass and follow relative shifts in class composition of biofilms under exposure of isoproturon. Short-term tests based on the quantification of the inhibition of the effective quantum yield revealed a concentration-dependent increase of PICT. The observation of two succession phases of the biofilms after 14 and 26 days of growth, respectively, revealed that sensitivity of biofilms decreased with increasing age and biomass, respectively, but PICT remained a characteristic parameter of exposed communities in a concentration-dependent relationship. In conclusion, multiwavelength-excitation PAM fluorometry has considerable potentials in multispecies and multiparameter assessment of toxic effects on community level in terms of (1) a combined and rapid evaluation of structural and functional parameters in parallel, (2) screening of trends over time, (3) observing effects in replication and (4) being non-destructive. The approach therefore provides a perspective for a better understanding of community-level effects as species interactions in terms of PICT and therefore a higher ecological realism in risk assessment of toxicants.

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