Rapid Testing of Toxic Chemicals

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The measurement of chlorophyll fluorescent signals from photosynthetic enzyme complexes (PEC) has become one of the most powerful indicators for ecophysiologists. PECs have been used for more than three decades in research laboratories to determine the toxicological impact of a vast array of chemicals.1–11 Photosynthesis is the absorption of light energy and its conversion into stable chemical potential in chloroplasts. The major part of the absorbed light energy is used to drive photochemical reactions (redox complexes in an electron transport chain).

However, a part of this absorbed lightenergy is emitted in the form of fluorescence and nonradiative energy dissipation. The presence of electron transport inhibitors (see Figure 1 for inhibition sites) can modify the balance between those energetic processes promoting the dissipation process. Based on chlorophyll fluorescence emission by PECs, the toxicity of a sample is indicated by the modification of fluorescence parameters. This plant bioassay was seen to rapidly evaluate the toxicity of an effluent, thus proving the efficacy of the treatment.

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