Standard Article

Environmental Applications with Submitochondrial Particles

Water Quality Control

  1. Diana J. Oakes,
  2. John K. Pollak

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.wq341

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Oakes, D. J. and Pollak, J. K. 2005. Environmental Applications with Submitochondrial Particles. Water Encyclopedia. 2:278–281.

Author Information

  1. University of Sydney, Lidcombe, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Classic toxicological methods often evaluate the outcomes of exposures to single chemicals. In the present environment, in which exposures to chemical mixtures have been significantly increased, it is inappropriate to only evaluate the toxic effects of individual chemicals. For the past 24 years, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has provided standardized test protocols to evaluate aquatic toxicity with laboratory-based single-species toxicity tests, such as fish, Daphnia spp., and algae. These bioassays provide useful data of the overall toxicities of chemical mixtures that are present in aqueous samples. An example of a subcellular bioassay, is the submitochondrial particle (SMP) Test. With this test, we use the cellular organelle, the mitochondrion, which is present in all eukaryotic (nucleated) cells. Mitochondria are effectively the powerhouses of the cell, providing over 90% of all energy produced in all eukaryotic organisms. Past studies have demonstrated that the SMP test is a useful pre-screening tool for evaluating the toxic effects of aqueous media or chemical formulations. The major limitation of the SMP test as well as other cellular and subcellular in vitro assays is that they cannot account for pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic processes that may affect the actions of chemicals in vivo.


  • submitochondrial particles;
  • in vitro toxicity;
  • water quality;
  • chemical mixtures