Effects of two diluents in the Microtox toxicity bioassay with marine sediments

Chemosphere. 2004 Feb;54(5):679-87. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2003.09.010.


This paper compares the use of two different diluents, EPA synthetic seawater (salinity 31 per thousand ) and NaCl standard diluent (salinity 35 per thousand ), in the Microtox toxicity bioassay performed on elutriate and solid phase derived from marine sediments. The study was performed comparing three series of data obtained by the use of the two diluents. In the first series the intensity of the natural light output of Vibrio fischeri was considered; in the second series pH value, sulphite and ammonia present in the control and in the diluent after the treatment with the sediment samples; in the last series, the measured toxicity in marine sediments was considered. The light output intensity measured with respect to time, gives information about the bacterial activity due to the different osmotic conditions. pH values joint with ammonia and sulphite content, give information about the effect of the bacterial metabolic activities and of the different interaction between each diluent with the sediment sample. At last, the comparison of the two diluents on real samples show how the different osmotic and hydrogenionic conditions determine different toxicity responses. The results show that the EPA diluent allows more suitable environment for the metabolic activities of bacteria depending on lower stressing conditions than those present when the standard diluent is used. Moreover, the use of EPA diluent reduces the risk of false positive response in the execution of the toxicity bioassay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia
  • Biological Assay
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Italy
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Vibrio / metabolism*


  • Ammonia