News related to Science, Technology, Environment, Agriculture and Medicine in India

Duckweed in Action: Checking xenobiotic pollution

Ofloxacin is a common broad-spectrum antibiotic. It is xenobiotic or poorly biodegradable, and only partially metabolised in our body before excretion. The constant discharge of the chemical into the environment affects the ecosystem. Traditional approaches fail to remove it from water bodies. What we need are sustainable and eco friendly water treatments .

Enter duckweed. The free-floating aquatic plant is considered an ecological indicator of aquatic environmental quality. Can duckweed be used to reduce aquatic pollution?

Surindra Suthar and team from the Doon University, Uttarakhand investigated the potential of greater duckweed, Spirodela polyrhiza, to remove Ofloxacin from an aqueous medium.

Spirodela_polyrhiza_Stefan.lefnaer

Many roots of Spirodela polyrhiza. Image Stefan Lefnaer via Wikimedia Commons

They  tested Ofloxacin in four concentrations, in a Spirodela polyrhiza-based system and measured plant growth, photo pigment and protein content. The researchers also checked how much of the antibiotic was removed from the water and whether there was any anti-oxidative response in the plant.

Antibiotic stress caused a reduction in duckweed growth. Leaf chlorophyll content and photosynthetic pigments reduced. There was an increase in carotenoid content, possibly a response to the antibiotic-induced generation of reactive oxygen species. Antibiotic stress also resulted in higher values of antioxidant enzymes and a slight increase in protein content.

The team examined the degradation of the antibiotic and found it higher in the medium with duckweed than in the control. “We noticed a reduction in duckweed growth parameters in the presence of xenobiotic pollutants,” says Vineet Singh, Doon University.

“This indicates the plant’s potential as bioindicator to monitor ecosystem functioning,” adds Bhawna Pandey, his colleague.

“Of course, we still need to understand the concentrations of the parent compound and its metabolites in plant tissues and their fate in the environment before we start using duckweed for bioremediation,” says Surindra Suthar.

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 179: 88-95 (2019);
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2019.04.018

Mabel Merlen
St. Mary’s College, Thrissur

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Categorised in: Environment, Uttarakhand, Water

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