Towards a multi-bioassay-based index for toxicity assessment of fluvial waters

Lalit K. Pandey, Isabelle Lavoie, Soizic Morin, Stephen Depuydt, Jie Lyu, Hojun Lee, Jinho Jung, Dong Hyuk Yeom, Taejun Han, Jihae Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Despite their proven reliability for revealing ‘acceptable’ degrees of toxicity in waste- and reclaimed waters, bioassays are rarely used to assess the toxicity of hazardous contaminants present in natural waters. In this study, we used organisms from different trophic levels to assess the toxicity of water samples collected from four different South Korean rivers. The main objective was to develop a multi-descriptor index of toxicity for undiluted river water. The responses of six test organisms (Aliivibrio fischeri, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, Heterocypris incongruens, Moina macrocopa, Danio rerio and Lemna minor) after laboratory exposure to water samples were considered for this index, as well as the frequency of teratologies in diatom assemblages. Each individual test was attributed a toxicity class and score (three levels; no toxicity = 0, low toxicity = 1, confirmed toxicity = 2) based on the organism’s response after exposure and a total score was calculated. The proposed index also considers the number of test organisms that received the highest toxicity score (value = 2). An overall toxicity category was then attributed to the water sample based on those two metrics: A = no toxicity, B = slight toxicity, C = moderate toxicity; D = toxicity and E = high toxicity. The susceptibility of the test organisms varied greatly and the sensitivity of their response also differed among bioassays. The combined responses of organisms from different trophic levels and with different life strategies provided multi-level diagnostic information about the intensity and the nature of contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Aquatic plants
  • Bioassay
  • Biological indicators
  • Microorganisms
  • Multi-descriptor index
  • Multiple endpoints
  • Receiving water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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