Water toxicity evaluations: Comparing genetically modified bioluminescent bacteria and CHO cells as biomonitoring tools

Bhuvaneshwari Manivannan, Nedal Massalha, Fares Halahlih, Evgeni Eltzov, Thanh H. Nguyen, Isam Sabbah, Mikhail Borisover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of water for drinking and agriculture requires knowledge of its toxicity. In this study, we compared the use of genetically modified bioluminescent (GMB) bacteria whose luminescence increases in the presence of toxicants and Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells for the characterization of the toxicity of water samples collected from a lake and streams, hydroponic and aquaponic farms, and a wastewater treatment plant. GMB bacteria were used to probe genotoxicity, cytotoxicity and reactive oxygen species-induced effects in the whole water samples. Unlike GMB bacteria, the use of CHO cells requires XAD resin-based pre-concentration of toxic material present in water samples for the subsequent cytotoxicity assay. In addition to the examination of the toxicity of the water from the different sources, the GMB bacteria were also used to test the XAD extracts diluted to the concentrations causing 50% growth inhibition of the CHO cells. The two biomonitoring tools provided different results when they were used to test the above-mentioned diluted XAD extracts. A pre-concentration procedure based on adsorption by XAD resins with subsequent elution was not sufficient to represent the material responsible for the toxicity of the whole water samples toward the GMB bacteria. Therefore, the use of XAD resin extracts may lead to major underestimates of the toxicity of water samples. Although the toxicity findings obtained using the GMB bacteria and CHO cells may not correlate with each another, the GMB bacteria assay did provide a mechanism-specific biomonitoring tool to probe the toxicity of water samples without a need for the pre-concentration step.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110984
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


  • Aquatic toxicology
  • Bioluminescent bacteria
  • Chinese hamster ovary
  • Pre-concentration
  • Toxic effects
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Water toxicity evaluations: Comparing genetically modified bioluminescent bacteria and CHO cells as biomonitoring tools'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this