Practical Duckweed: 
Environmental Testing and Research
Lemna as a Model System
 Procedures for Lemna Tests
Results of Testing & Research 

Lemna as a Standard Model System for Environmental Testing
Lemna growth assays are used in testing the toxicity (phytotoxicity) of pesticides and other environmental chemicals to higher plants.  These tests are highly standardized and specific procedures have been laid out by regulatory agencies for Lemna testing.  Standardization allows for valid comparisons between laboratories and tests on different chemicals.  Automating Lemna bioassays with video imaging offers to increase their efficiency and precision.

A recent EPA Scientific Advisory Panel Briefing recommends expanding phytotoxicity testing to a greater diversity of organisms and physical conditions.  However, the document underscores the importance now attached to Lemna testing.  Standardized duckweed bioassays expose the plants to chemicals dissolved or dispersed in their liquid media.  In the future, it may be desired to also expose duckweeds to airborn (foliar) chemicals and to substances bound to sediments at the bottom of the culture dish.  Researchers are currently studying these variations.

Video Image (right) courtesy of LemnaTec.

USEPA Scientific Advisory Panel Briefing, June 27-29, 2001

Excepts from
Foliar exposure and incorporation of test substances into sediments


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Revised:  August 5, 2006