Comparative effects of herbicides on photosynthesis and growth of tropical estuarine microalgae

Marie E. Magnusson, Kirsten Ruth Heimann, Andrew Peter Negri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Pulse amplitude modulation (PAM) fluorometry is ideally suited to measure the sub-lethal impacts of photosystem II (PSII)-inhibiting herbicides on microalgae, but key relationships between effective quantum yield [Y(II)] and the traditional endpoints growth rate (μ) and biomass increase are unknown. The effects of three PSII–inhibiting herbicides; diuron, hexazinone and atrazine, were examined on two tropical benthic microalgae; Navicula sp. (Heterokontophyta) and Nephroselmis pyriformis (Chlorophyta). The relationships between Y(II), μ and biomass increase were consistent (r2 ⩾ 0.90) and linear (1:1), validating the utility of PAM fluorometry as a rapid and reliable technique to measure sub-lethal toxicity thresholds of PSII-inhibiting herbicides in these microalgae. The order of toxicity (EC50 range) was: diuron (16–33 nM) > hexazinone (25–110 nM) > atrazine (130–620 nm) for both algal species. Growth rate and photosynthesis were affected at diuron concentrations that have been detected in coastal areas of the Great Barrier Reef.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1552
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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