Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity in water of the Subaé River (Humildes, Bahia, Brazil) using Allium cepa L. as a bioindicator

  • Jacqueline Ramos Machado Braga Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB)
  • Diêgo Menezes Lopes Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB)
Keywords: chromosomal abnormalities, ecotoxicology, environmental monitoring, mitotic index


Over the years, the Subaé River in Bahia has been polluted by the discharge of toxic industrial waste into its waters. This study used the Allium cepa test to investigate the cytotoxic and genotoxic effects caused by the river water that that runs through the city of Humildes-BA. Water samples were collected in three points (PI, PII and PIII) for physical and chemical analysis. Onions bulbs were immersed in triplicate water samples for 72 h to induce germination. The root tips were kept at 4 °C for 12-h, then fixed in Carnoy for 12-h and stained using the Feulgen technique. We analyzed 6500 cells of each treatment. Cytotoxicity was assessed by the mitotic index (MI) and genotoxicity by chromosomal abnormalities (CA). The tests revealed that PI and PIII had DO values, BOD5 and COD changed. The toxicity test indicated that root growth was inhibited by the water drawn from PI (10.3%) and PII (10.6%) compared to the negative control (11.9%). CAs were found in 6.2% of the cells relating to PI, 6.0% relating to PII, and 5.4% relating to PIII, respectively. These values were higher than those found in the positive control (3%), indicating a genotoxic effect at the points studied. From the results, it can be inferred that the waters of the Rio Subaé may contain substances that are probably affecting the cell cycle of A. cepa. It is important that other analyses be conducted in different seasons, in order to better monitor local environmental conditions.