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Use of pollution-induced community tolerance of the bacterial community to detect phenol toxicity in soil.

  • Louise Aldén
  • Erland Bååth
Publishing year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 334-340
Publication/Series: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume: 27
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SETAC and Alliance Communications Group

Abstract english

Pollution-induced community tolerance (PICT) was used to study effects of phenol on soil bacteria. Phenol was added to an agricultural soil in a microcosm experiment. The effects were studied for up to four months. Bacterial growth rates were estimated with the leucine incorporation technique. This technique was also used as detection method for PICT. Changes in community structure were studied using the phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) pattern. Increased phenol PICT of the bacterial community was found at phenol concentrations above 1 micromol/g wet weight soil. Direct inhibiting effect on bacterial growth rates 1 d after adding phenol was correlated to PICT. Phenol toxicity was reflected by changes in the structure of the bacterial community, although PICT appeared more sensitive than the PLFA method. In soil amended with 1 to 10 micromol phenol/g soil, bacterial growth recovered within one week. In the soil amended with the highest phenol concentration (30 micromol/g soil), bacterial growth rate recovered from total inhibition after 27 d, eventually reaching values six times higher than in the control. However, PICT did not change during the four months the experiment was performed. The specificity of PICT was also studied by examining cotolerance to 2-chlorophenol, 2,4-dichlorophenol, 2,3,6-trichlorophenol, Cu, and Zn. Adding phenol induced cotolerance of the bacterial community to the other phenols, although always at a lover level than to phenol. No cotolerance was found to metals in phenol-polluted soil. We conclude that the PICT concept is a valuable tool in determining phenol toxicity to bacterial communities, especially in situations where bacterial growth has recovered. Cotolerance between different phenols can, however, make interpretations of PICT more complicated.


  • Biological Sciences


  • Climate Initiative
  • Microbial Ecology
  • ISSN: 0730-7268
Erland Bååth
E-mail: erland [dot] baath [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor emeritus


+46 46 222 42 64


Sölvegatan 37, Lund