The use of toxicity bioassays to monitor the recovery of oiled wetland sediments. Academic Article uri icon


  • Six toxicity assays were compared to determine their efficacy in assessing toxicity dynamics during a wetland bioremediation study. The toxicity bioassays used were the Microtox 100% elutriate test, Microtox Solid Phase Test (SPT), amphipod assay, P450 reporter gene system, Toxi-ChromoPad test and a Salmonella/microsome assay. Oiled sediments were analyzed for toxicity in the petroleum biostimulation experiment conducted along the San Jacinto River, near Houston (TX, USA). The bioassays were evaluated for their ability to measure acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, and the mutagenic potential of amended oiled plots as compared to oiled and unoiled control plots. Amendments were diammonium phosphate alone or in combination with potassium nitrate, which served as an alternate electron acceptor. With exception of the Toxi-ChromoPad and Salmonella tests, the bioassays exhibited a significant increase in toxicity after oil application. Microtox bioassays detected significant sediment toxicity up to 29 d after oil and amendment application. The Microtox solid phase test results correlated strongly with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses of total target saturate and aromatic hydrocarbons. The amphipod assay detected initial toxicity with a decline to day 70, followed by a significant increase in toxicity on day 140 in plots receiving nutrient amendments, which may be in response to excessive nutrient application. Low levels of enzyme induction were observed with the P450 reporter gene system assay in all oiled sediments throughout the study, suggesting low but persistent levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Of the six tests, the two Microtox tests and the amphipod test showed the most potential in evaluating petroleum toxicity in wetland sediments.

published proceedings

  • Environ Toxicol Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Mueller, D. C., Bonner, J. S., McDonald, S. J., Autenrieth, R. L., Donnelly, K. C., Lee, K., Doe, K., & Anderson, J.

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Mueller, Danica C||Bonner, James S||McDonald, Susanne J||Autenrieth, Robin L||Donnelly, Kirby C||Lee, Kenneth||Doe, Kenneth||Anderson, Jack

publication date

  • September 2003