Methodological advances and future directions of microalgal bioassays for evaluation of potential toxicity in environmental samples: A review


Microalgal bioassays are widely applied to evaluate the potential toxicity of various persistent toxic substances in environmental samples due to multiple advantages, including high sensitivity, short test duration, and cost-effectiveness. Microalgal bioassay is gradually developing in method, and the scope of application to environmental samples is also expanding. Here, we reviewed the published literature on microalgal bioassays for environmental assessments, focusing on types of samples, sample preparation methods, and endpoints, and highlighted key scientific advancements. Bibliographic analysis was performed with the keywords ‘microalgae’ and ‘toxicity’ or ‘bioassay’, and ‘microalgal toxicity’; 89 research articles were selected and reviewed. Traditionally, most studies implementing microalgal bioassays focused on water samples (44%) with passive samplers (38%). Studies using the direct exposure method (41%) of injecting microalgae into sampled water mainly evaluated toxic effects by growth inhibition (63%). Recently, various automated sampling techniques, in situ bioanalytical methods with multiple endpoints, and targeted and non-targeted chemical analyses have been applied. More research is needed to identify causative toxicants affecting microalgae and to quantify the cause-effect relationships. This study provides the first comprehensive overview of recent advances in microalgal bioassays performed with environmental samples, suggesting future research directions based on current understanding and limitations.

Authors: Junghyun Lee, Seongjin Hong, Seong-Ah An, Jong Seong Khim
; Full Source: Environment international 2023 Mar 7;173:107869. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2023.107869.