Comparison of plants for germination toxicity tests in petroleum- contaminated soils

M. K. Banks, K. E. Schultz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Pollution of soil by petroleum hydrocarbons is a serious environmental problem world-wide. Although total concentration of contaminants in soil and/or water is used for regulatory review, it also is beneficial to assess the potential for ecosystem impact through a series of bioassays. One commonly used bioassay is seed germination. In this test, seeds are placed in contaminated material, and seedlings enumerated after a specified incubation period. However, different plant species produce variability in response. In the research project reported here, lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), millet (Panicum miliaceum), radish (Raphanus L.), red clover (Trifolium pratense L.), and wheat (Triticum aestivum) were tested for sensitivity to petroleum-contaminated soil in germination tests. While most plants appeared to show some sensitivity to the pollutant, only lettuce had a statistically significant difference in response to contaminated and uncontaminated soil. These results confirm that Latuca sativa L is the optimal plant choice for standard germination toxicity tests with petroleum-impacted soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-219
Number of pages9
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Contamination
  • Germination
  • Hazardous organic compounds
  • Microorganisms
  • Oil
  • Petroleum
  • Seedlings
  • Soil
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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