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Assessing benzene-induced toxicity on wild type Euglena gracilis Z and its mutant strain SMZ

Peng, Cheng, Arthur, Dionne M., Sichani, Homa Teimouri, Xia, Qing, Ng, Jack C.
Chemosphere 2013 v.93 pp. 2381-2389
DNA damage, Euglena gracilis, benzene, cell growth, chemical analysis, chlorophyll, dose response, ecosystems, groundwater, groundwater contamination, human health, models, monitoring, mutants, reactive oxygen species, risk, toxicity, volatile organic compounds
Benzene is a representative member of volatile organic compounds and has been widely used as an industrial solvent. Groundwater contamination of benzene may pose risks to human health and ecosystems. Detection of benzene in the groundwater using chemical analysis is expensive and time consuming. In addition, biological responses to environmental exposures are uninformative using such analysis. Therefore, the aim of this study was to employ a microorganism, Euglena gracilis (E. gracilis) as a putative model to monitor the contamination of benzene in groundwater. To this end, we examined the wild type of E. gracilis Z and its mutant form, SMZ in their growth rate, morphology, chlorophyll content, formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and DNA damage in response to benzene exposure. The results showed that benzene inhibited cell growth in a dose response manner up to 48h of exposure. SMZ showed a greater sensitivity compared to Z in response to benzene exposure. The difference was more evident at lower concentrations of benzene (0.005–5μM) where growth inhibition occurred in SMZ but not in Z cells. We found that benzene induced morphological changes, formation of lipofuscin, and decreased chlorophyll content in Z strain in a dose response manner. No significant differences were found between the two strains in ROS formation and DNA damage by benzene at concentrations affecting cell growth. Based on these results, we conclude that E. gracilis cells were sensitive to benzene-induced toxicities for certain endpoints such as cell growth rate, morphological change, depletion of chlorophyll. Therefore, it is a potentially suitable model for monitoring the contamination of benzene and its effects in the groundwater.