Ecotoxicological and genotoxic effects of dimethyl phthalate (DMP) on Lemna minor L. and Spirodela polyrhiza (L.) Schleid. plants under a short-term laboratory assay

Sci Total Environ. 2022 Feb 1;806(Pt 4):150972. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.150972. Epub 2021 Oct 14.


The environmental occurrence of phthalates (PAE) is of great concern for the ecosystem and human health. Despite of their recognized toxicity on biota, a lack of knowledge is still present about the effects of PAE on plants. In this scenario, the effects of dimethyl phthalate (DMP) on duckweed plants (Lemna minor L. and Spirodela polyrhiza (L.) Schleid.), two model plant species for ecotoxicological and trophic studies, were investigated. Under a 7-day lab assay, morphological (biometric indicators), physiological (pigment content and photosynthetic performance) and molecular (DNA damage) parameters were studied. No effects were observed at growth and physiological level in both plants at 3 and 30 mg/L DMP. On the contrary, at 600 mg/L DMP, a concentration used for plant acute toxicity studies, a remarkable growth inhibition and pigment content and photosynthetic parameters reduction compared to control were observed in both plants species, particularly in Spirodela. Alkaline Comet assay in 24 h-treated plants revealed a genotoxic damage induced by DMP, particularly relevant in Spirodela. These results described for the first time the adverse effects exerted by DMP on aquatic plants, contributing to highlight the environmental risk associated to the presence of this compound in the aquatic ecosystem.

Keywords: Chlorophyll fluorescence; Comet assay; DNA damage; Duckweed; Emerging pollutants; Photosynthesis.

MeSH terms

  • Araceae*
  • DNA Damage
  • Ecosystem
  • Humans
  • Laboratories
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / toxicity


  • Phthalic Acids
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • dimethyl phthalate