Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7672
Title: Use of a bacterial bioluminescence assay to assess toxicity of contaminated marine sediments
Author: Michael H. Schiewe, Eric G. Hawk, David I. Actor, Margaret M. Krahn
Publication Year: 1985
Journal: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Volume: 42
Issue: 7
Pages: 1244-1248

A bacterial bioluminescence assay was evaluated for assessing the toxicity of contaminated marine sediments.  Preliminary assays established the feasibility of testing methanol–dichloromethane sediment extracts and demonstrated the advantages of solvent–exchanging the extracts into ethanol before testing.  Bioluminescence assays were then conducted on extracts of 18 marine sediments varying in nature and degree of chemical contamination.  Statistical analyses revealed significant associations between acute toxicity expressed as a 15–min EC50 (the concentration of extract causing a 50% reduction in bioluminescence after a 15–min exposure) and concentrations of sums of measured aromatic hydrocarbons, naphthalenes, and chlorinated hydrocarbons.  We conclude that the bioluminescence assay is useful as a rapid method of comparing and ranking the toxicity of organic extracts of contaminated sediments.   

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