Ecotoxicological Method with Marine Bacteria Vibrio anguillarum to Evaluate the Acute Toxicity of Environmental Contaminants

J Vis Exp. 2017 May 26;(123):55211. doi: 10.3791/55211.


Bacteria are an important component of the ecosystem, and microbial community alterations can have a significant effect on biogeochemical cycling and food webs. Toxicity testing based on microorganisms are widely used because they are relatively quick, reproducible, cheap, and are not associated with ethical issues. Here, we describe an ecotoxicological method to evaluate the biological response of the marine bacterium Vibrio anguillarum. This method assesses the acute toxicity of chemical compounds, including new contaminants such as nanoparticles, as well as environmental samples. The endpoint is the reduction of bacterial culturability (i.e., the capability to replicate and form colonies) due to exposure to a toxicant. This reduction can be generally referred to as mortality. The test allows for the determination of the LC50, the concentration that causes a 50% decrease of bacteria actively replicating and forming colonies, after a 6 h exposure. The culturable bacteria are counted in terms of colony forming units (CFU), and the "mortality" is evaluated and compared to the control. In this work, the toxicity of copper sulphate (CuSO4) was evaluated. A clear dose-response relationship was observed, with a mean LC50 of 1.13 mg/L, after three independent tests. This protocol, compared to existing methods with microorganisms, is applicable in a wider range of salinity and has no limitations for colored/turbid samples. It uses saline solution as the exposure medium, avoiding any possible interferences of growth medium with the investigated contaminants. The LC50 calculation facilitates comparisons with other bioassays commonly applied to ecotoxicological assessments of the marine environment.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Copper Sulfate
  • Ecotoxicology / methods*
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Vibrio / pathogenicity*


  • Copper Sulfate