A phytotoxicity test using transpiration of willows

Stefan Trapp, Kim Cecilia Zambrano, Kresten Ole Kusk, U. Karlsson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A short-term acute toxicity assay for willow trees growing in contaminated solution or in polluted soil was developed and tested. The test apparatus consists of an Erlenmeyer flask with a prerooted tree cutting growing in it. Growth and reduction of transpiration are used to determine toxicity. Transpiration is closely related to photosynthesis and growth, but is easier and faster to measure and can be measured without disturbance of the test system. Plants are grown for 24 h in uncontaminated nutrient solution before the toxicant is added to determine the initial transpiration. The loss of weight is expressed as % decrease after 48 and 72 h or longer compared to the initial transpiration, divided by the transpiration of control plants. More toxicity parameters are growth and water use efficiency of the plants. The sensitivity of the test was evaluated with 3,5-dichlorophenol. EC50 values between 5.8 and 9.6 mg/L were found. This is similar to the results from algal growth rate tests. The willow tree toxicity test may be useful for determining the site-specific toxicity of polluted soils and for terrestrial risk assessment of new chemicals and pesticides.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)154-160
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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