Phytotoxic effects of heavy metal contaminated soil reveal limitations of extract-based ecotoxicological tests

Veronika Gyuricza, Ferenc Fodor, Zoltán Szigeti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Toxicity of contaminated soils cannot be assessed only by chemical analyses, therefore bioassays are increasingly used. Widely accepted ecotoxicological methods include organisms from all levels of the food-chain but plant-based ones are usually restricted to germination and growth tests. In our study the toxicity of heavy metal contaminated soil samples were examined not only by germination and bacterial tests of their extracts but also by the measurement of physiological parameters of two plant species (cucumber and wheat) that were grown directly on the contaminated substrate. Changes in chlorophyll concentration, stomatal conductance, fluorescence characteristics, and malondialdehyde (MDA) level (showing oxidative damage to lipids in leaves) undoubtedly indicated the mobilisation and toxic effect of contaminants. The results showed that the sensitivity of plant physiological parameters was higher than that of the extract-based ecotoxicological tests. Whereas these latter could not reveal the toxic effect of the highly contaminated soils the plants have reacted in a more complex way and their physiological parameters have changed significantly in all cases validating their use in such studies. The applied measurements also allow quicker and more reliable testing even under field conditions (stomatal conductance) or the detection of a more complex response if detailed analyses is needed (MDA, fluorescence imaging) thus underlining the importance of plant-based methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2010


  • Bioassays
  • Dehydrogenase activity
  • Fluorescence imaging
  • MDA
  • Plant stress
  • Stomatal conductance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Phytotoxic effects of heavy metal contaminated soil reveal limitations of extract-based ecotoxicological tests'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this