• Sediment toxicity;
  • Algae;
  • Immobilized algal bead;
  • Toxicity identification evaluation;
  • Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata


A method for a whole-sediment toxicity test using alginate immobilized microalgae Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata was developed using spiked sediments and applied to contaminated field sediment samples. For method development, a growth inhibition test (72 h) with algal beads was conducted for the sediments spiked with Cu or diuron. The method was validated by determining dose–response relationships for Cu and diuron in both fine-grained and coarse-grained sediments. The results of a spiked sediment toxicity test suggested that sediment particle size distribution (clay content) had a significant effect on the growth of P. subcapitata. The developed method using immobilized microalgae P. subcapitata beads was applied successfully in the toxicity test and toxicity identification evaluation (TIE) for the four field sediment samples. After a series of extractions with 0.01 M CaCl2 solution, acetone, and dichloromethane, the extracted sediment, which was shown to be nontoxic to algae, was used as the control and diluent for the same sediment in the whole-sediment toxicity test. The results showed that all investigated field sediment samples were found to be toxic to the immobilized algae P. subcapitata, with their median effective concentration (EC50) values ranging from 41.4 to 79.0% after 72 h exposure. In the whole sediment TIE, growth of P. subcapitata was improved to varying degrees after adding zeolite, resin, or activated charcoal, suggesting different contributions to toxicity from ammonia, metals, and organic contaminants in the tested sediments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:377–386. © 2011 SETAC