Microbiotests in Aquatic Ecotoxicology : Characteristics, Utility and Prospects
Abstract :Small-scale biological tests (microbiotests) have steadily increased in development and application over the last 30 years in the field of aquatic ecotoxicology. Multitrophic level assessment requirements, attractive features of microbiotests, and the constant search for simplicity and cost efficiency of testing are reasons explaining the expanding use of microbiotests. In this article, the major characteristics that advantageously confer popularity on microbiotests are presented and 25 currently applied aquatic toxicity microbiotests are listed. Conducted with bacteria, protozoans, microalgae, small invertebrates and fish cell lines, these microbiotests represent a realistic cross section of thos that are becoming an essential part of ecotoxicological assessment. Microbiotests can be profitably employed for ranking and screening chemicals, for novel applications enabling rapid detection of ecotoxic effects in complex liquid samples, and for increasing the cost efficiency and diagnostic potential of hazard assessment schemes. Microbiotesting research, development and applications will continue to surge in the 1990s, driven, among other factors, by the imperative need for cost effectiveness in environmental programs. Research in the fields of ecotoxicology, biotechnology and immunochemistry should provide interesting breakthroughs to further enhance the specificity and diagnostic value of microbiotests.