Improvement of Vicia-micronucleus test for assessment of soil quality: a proposal for international standardization.

PMID 21906776


The Viciafaba root tip micronucleus test is one of the most employed plant genotoxicity assays, and has been used on various types of contaminated materials. This test has been standardized by AFNOR, the French member organization of ISO. However, this test is usually performed with a water extraction step but soil genotoxicity assessment would be more relevant when performed directly in the soil itself. In order to harmonize these protocols, an ISO standard for the V.faba micronucleus test in both liquid phase (exposure of plants to different liquid matrix, including soil water extracts) and solid phase (direct exposure of plants to the soil) would be very useful. In this context, we compared two exposure durations in the solid phase (48 h and 5 d) for the V.faba micronucleus test with two different well-known genotoxicants, maleic hydrazide and copper sulfate. We concluded that these two durations induced equivalent sensitivity: the micronucleus frequency was significantly increased with 5 μmol maleic hydrazide per kg dry soil and with 2 mmol copper sulfate per kg dry soil with both exposure durations. However, exposing roots to soil during 48 h is more practical. Moreover, organically and conventionally cultured seeds were employed to determine whether the seed provenance influenced the test sensitivity. Organic seeds were less sensitive to copper, possibly because copper-based treatments are permitted, and often applied, in organic farms. Therefore, in the absence of completely non-treated seeds, organically-cultured seeds did not appear to offer any advantages over conventional seeds.

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