Toxicity Assessment of Contaminated Soil Using Seeds as Bioindicators

Jaqueline Matos Cruz, Paulo Renato Matos Lopes, Renato Nallin Montagnolli, Ivo Shodji Tamada, Natália Maria Maciel Guerra Silva, Ederio Dino Bidoia


The evaluation soil quality after bioremediation processes solely on chemical data does not include the effects of toxic substances in organisms. Thus, ecotoxicological assays with seeds are applied to assess the effect of toxic substances in organisms according to their germination sensitivity. The objective of this study was to evaluate a contaminated soil with diesel, biodiesel and waste lubricat oil in ecotoxicological bioassays using seeds of Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Brassica oleracea (kale) and Barbarea verna (cress) as test organisms. The sample of contaminated soil was buried to allow contact with microorganisms that are naturally present in the soil and can be capable to biodegrade the contaminant. Each soil sample was removed monthly and the potential toxicity of contaminants was evaluated by examining germination rates according to biodegradation time in soil. The results indicate that the species Barbarea verna is not a good test organism due to its low germination rate. The study suggest that the contact of waste lubricant oil and diesel with the embryo was hampered by the seed coats and the hydrophobicity these substances, preventing the entry of substances which may be toxic to the embryo. Also, Cucumis sativus and Brassica oleracea showed that after two months of biodegradation, biodiesel is the most toxic contaminant during seed development.

Full Text:



Abioye, O. P., Agamuthu, P., & Abdul-Aziz, A. R. (2012). Biodegradation of used motor oil in soil using organic waste amendments. Biotechnology Research International, ID 587041, 8 pages.

Adam, G., & Duncan, H. (2002). Influence of diesel fuel on seed germination. Environmental Pollution, 120(2), 363-370.

Araújo, A. S. F., & Monteiro, R. T. R. (2005). Plant bioassays to assess toxicity of textile sludge compost. Scientia Agricola (Piracicaba, Brazil), 62(3), 286-290.

Banks, M. K., & Schultz, K. E. (2005). Comparison of plants for germination toxicity tests in petroleum-contaminated soils. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 167(1), 211-219. 10.1007/s11270-005-8553-4

Bewley, J. D. (1997). Seed germination and dormancy. Plant Cell, 9, 1055-1066.

Di Salvatore, M., Carafa, A. M., & Carratù, G. (2008). Assessment of heavy metals phytotoxicity using seed germination and root elongation tests: A comparison of two growth substrates. Chemosphere, 73(9), 1461-1464.

Henner, P., Schiavon, M., Druelle, V., & Lichtfouse, E. (1999). Phytotoxicity of ancient gaswork soils. Effect of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on plant germination. Organic Geochemistry, 30(8), 963-969.

Henry, J. A. (1998). Composition and toxicity of petroleum products and their additives. Human & Experimental Toxicology, 17(2), 111-123.

Lapinskiene, A., Martinkus, P., & Rebždaite, V. (2006). Eco-toxicological studies of diesel and biodiesel fuels in aerated soil. Environmental Pollution, 142(3), 432-437.

Leung, D. Y. C., Koo, B. C. P., & Guo, Y. (2006). Degradation of biodiesel under different storage conditions. Bioresource Technology, 97, 250-256.

Lopes, P. R. M., Montagnolli, R. N., Domingues, R. F., & Bidoia, E. D. (2010). Toxicity and biodegradation in sandy soil contaminated by lubricant oils. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 84(4), 454-458.

Lopes, P. R. M., & Bidoia, E. D. (2009). Evaluation of the biodegradation of different types of lubricant oils in liquid medium. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology, 52(5), 1285-1290.

Lors, C., Perie, F., Grand, C., & Damidot, D. (2009). Benefits of ecotoxicological bioassays in the evaluation of a field biotreatment of PAHs polluted soil. Global NEST Journal, 11(3), 251-259.

Lynch, J. M., Wiseman, A., & De leij, F. A. A. M. (2001). Ecotoxicology. In S. A. Levin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (pp. 363-373). San Diego: Academic Press.

Maila, M. P., & Cloete, T. E. (2002). Germination of Lepidium sativum as a method to evaluate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) removal from contaminated soil. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation, 50, 107-113.

Morales, G. C. (2004). Ensayos Toxicológicos y Métodos de Evaluación de Calidad de Agua: estandarización, intercalibración, resultados y aplicaciones (Ed.). México: IMTA, p. 188.

Nkereuwem, M. E., Edem, I. D., & Fagbola, O. (2010). Bioremediation of oil-polluted soils with organomineral fertilizer (OMF) and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia). Nigerian Journal of Agriculture, Food and Environment, 6, 13-20.

Plaza, G., Naleez-jaweeki, G., Ulfig, K., & Brigmon, R. L. (2005). The application of bioassays as indicators of petroleum-contaminated soil remediation. Chemosphere, 59, 289-296.

Repetto, G., Jos, A., Hazen, M. J., Molero, M. L., Del Peso, A., Salgueiro, M., ... Repetto, M. A. (2001). A test battery for the ecotoxicological evaluation of pentachlorophenol. Toxicology in Vitro, 15, 503-509.

Saterbak, A., Toy, R. J., Wong, D. C. L., Mcmain, B. J., Williams, M. P., Dorn, P. B., … Salanitro, J. P. (1999). Ecotoxicological and analytical assessment of hydrocarbon-contaminated soils and application to ecological risk assessment. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 18(7), 1591- 1607. /10.1002/etc.5620180735

Siddiqui, S., Adams, W. A., & Schollion, J. (2001). The phytotoxicity and degradation of diesel hydrocarbons in soil. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 164, 631-635.<631::AID-JPLN631>3.0.CO;2-E

Smith, M. J., Flowers, T. H., Duncan, H. J., & Alder, J. (2006). Effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on germination and subsequent growth of grasses and legumes in freshly contaminated soil with aged PAHs residues. Environmental Pollution, 141(3), 519-525.

Tamada, I. S., Lopes, P. R. M., Montagnolli, R. N., & Bidoia, E. D. (2012). Toxicological evaluation of vegetable oils and biodiesel in soil during the biodegradation process. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, 43, 1576-1581.

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency - USEPA. (1996). Ecological Effects Test Guidelines: Seed Germination/Root Elongation Toxicity Test. Retrieved from Accessed 20 June 2011.

Wang, X., Sun, C., Gao, S., Wang, L., & Shuokui, H. (2001). Validation of Germination Rate and Root Elongation as Indicator to Assess Phytotoxicity with Cucumis Sativus, Chemosphere, 44, 1711-1721.

Wierzbicka, M., &vObidzinska, J. (1998). The effect of lead on seed imbibition and germination in different plant species, Plant Science, 137, 155-171.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.

Copyright © Macrothink Institute   ISSN 2327-0640