Frozen mitochondria as rapid water quality bioassay

Chemosphere. 2003 Aug;52(7):1115-23. doi: 10.1016/S0045-6535(02)00843-3.


A rapid and relatively low cost bioassay, usable in routine screening water test has been developed modifying the beef heart mitochondria test. In our experiments, mitochondria (FM22) were frozen at -22 degrees C, instead of -80 degrees C (FM80), and their applicability and sensitivity was verified. The oxygen consumption was measured by a Clark electrode that was interfaced to a PC to collect test analysis data. Blank tests were carried out to verify the oxygen consumption linear fitting. Toxicity tests were performed using pure organic and inorganic compounds, such to verify the FM22 sensitivity. A piecewise regression, through an Excel Macro, identified the break-point in the oxygen consumption and calculated the toxicity. The IC50s of the tested compounds were calculated and ranged from 0.123 to 0.173 mg/l for heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn) and from 0.572 to 10.545 mg/l for organics (benzene, DMSO, DDE, endrin, dichloromethane, chlorobenzene, 1,2-dichlorobenzene and 1,3-dichlorobenzene). Water effluent samples were then tested. The FM22 gave different toxic reactions to them. Water samples were characterised for heavy metals. The FM22 bioassay had a higher sensitivity than the FM80 and a high reproducibility in the toxicity test with pure compounds. The FM22 test was a good predictor of toxicity for water samples; the bioassay is easy, low cost and rapid, then usable for routine tests.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calibration
  • Cattle
  • Cryopreservation
  • Environmental Monitoring* / economics
  • Environmental Monitoring* / instrumentation
  • Environmental Monitoring* / methods
  • Mitochondria, Heart / drug effects*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling
  • Water / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Water Supply / standards


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Water