Combined toxic effects of microcystin-LR and phenanthrene on growth and antioxidant system of duckweed (Lemna gibba L.).

Research paper by Xiang X Wan, Alan D AD Steinman, Xiubo X Shu, Qing Q Cao, Lei L Yao, Liqiang L Xie

Indexed on: 17 Jan '21Published on: 02 Oct '19Published in: Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety


Microcystins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons commonly co-exist in eutrophic freshwater environments. However, their combined toxicity remains unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate the combined toxic effects of microcystin-LR (MC-LR) and phenanthrene (Phe) on duckweed (Lemna gibba L.) during a short-term exposure (7 d). L. gibba was exposed to a range of environmentally relevant concentrations of MC-LR (5, 50, 250, 500 μg/L) and Phe (0.1, 1, 5, 10 μg/L), both individually and in MC-LR + Phe mixtures (5 + 0.1, 50 + 1, 250 + 5, 500 + 10 μg/L). Subsequently, biomarkers of toxicity such as growth, chlorophyll-a, and antioxidant enzyme activity (catalase, superoxide dismutase, and peroxidase) were analyzed in L. gibba. Growth and the antioxidant system of L. gibba were not significantly inhibited by Phe alone, whereas higher concentrations of individual MC-LR (≥50 μg/L) significantly inhibited growth and induced oxidative stress. Based on Abott's formula, their interaction effects were concentration dependent. Antagonistic effects were observed when exposed to combinations of lower concentrations of MC-LR and Phe (≤50 + 1 μg/L), while additive or synergistic effects were induced at higher concentrations of both compounds (≥250 + 5 μg/L). Moreover, higher concentrations of Phe (≥5 μg/L) increased the accumulation of MC-LR in L. gibba. Our results suggested that the toxic effects of MC-LR and phenanthrene were exacerbated only when they co-exist in water bodies at relatively high concentrations. Consequently, co-existence of MC-LR and Phe at low levels are unlikely to exacerbate ecological hazards to L. gibba in most aquatic environments, at least based on responses of this plant. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.