Phytotoxicity of surface waters of the Thames and Brisbane River Estuaries: A combined chemical analysis and bioassay approach for the comparison of two systems
The Thames Estuary, UK, and the Brisbane River, Australia, are comparable in size and catchment area. Both are representative of the large and growing number of the world's estuaries associated with major cities. Principle differences between the two systems relate to climate and human population pressures. In order to assess the potential phytotoxic impact of herbicide residues in the estuaries, surface waters were analysed with a PAM fluorometrybased bioassay that employs the photosynthetic efficiency (photosystem II quantum yield) of laboratory cultured microalgae, as an endpoint measure of phytotoxicity. In addition, surface waters were chemically analysed for a limited number of herbicides. Diuron, atrazine and simazine were detected in both systems at comparable concentrations. In contrast, bioassay results revealed that whilst detected herbicides accounted for the observed phytotoxicity of Brisbane River extracts with great accuracy, they consistently explained only around 50% of the phytotoxicity induced by Thames Estuary extracts. Unaccounted for phytotoxicity in Thames surface waters is indicative of unidentified phytotoxins. The greatest phytotoxic response was measured at Charing Cross, Thames Estuary, and corresponded to a diuron equivalent concentration of 180 ng L-1. The study employs relative potencies (REP) of PSII impacting herbicides and demonstrates that chemical analysis alone is prone to omission of valuable information. Results of the study provide support for the incorporation of bioassays into routine monitoring programs where bioassay data may be used to predict and verify chemical contamination data, alert to unidentified compounds and provide the user with information regarding cumulative toxicity of complex mixtures.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics
Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified