Toxicity evaluation of two typical surfactants to Dunaliella bardawil, an environmentally tolerant alga



Sodium dodecyl benzene sulfonate (SDBS) and cetyl trimethyl ammonium chloride (CTAC) are two kinds of surfactants widely applied in various industries. The tremendous direct discharge of these surfactants into natural waters has posed a significant threat to ecosystems. Dunaliella bardawil was employed in the present research to test the toxic effects of SDBS, CTAC, and their mixture on cell growth, cellular morphology, β-carotene accumulation, and enzymatic activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT). The results showed that SDBS at 200, 550, 900, 1,350, 1,800, and 2,400 mg/L and CTAC at 0.4, 0.7, 1.0, 1.3, 2.8, and 3.5 mg/L inhibited algal growth and β-carotene accumulation, both of which declined and then increased. In particular, CTAC (median inhibitory concentration at 10 days [IC50]10 d = 2.8 ± 1.49 mg/L) was more hazardous than SDBS (IC5010 d = 2,044 ± 637.3 mg/L). The additive index (AI) calculated from carotene content data was (−4.10, −1.67) < 0, indicating an antagonistic effect between SDBS and CTAC. Algae cultivated at level 6 of the binary system showed hormesis due to the mitigated toxicity; SDBS at 2,400 mg/L, CTAC at 3.5 mg/L, and combined surfactants at level 6 exerted lethal effects on D. bardawil. Both SOD and CAT activities showed similar associations with varied concentrations of surfactants: SOD was significantly promoted by 550 to 1,800 mg/L SDBS, 0.7 to 1.3 mg/L CTAC, and mixtures at levels 2 to 4; CAT was clearly promoted by 900 mg/L SDBS, 0.4 to 1.3 mg/L CTAC, and mixtures at levels 2 to 4. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:426–433. © 2012 SETAC