Use of a fluorescence-based approach to assess short-term responses of the alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata to metal stress


This work explores the use of fluorescent probes to evaluate the responses of the green alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata to the action of three nominal concentrations of Cd(II), Cr(VI), Cu(II) and Zn(II) for a short time (6 h). The toxic effect of the metals on algal cells was monitored using the fluorochromes SYTOX Green (SG, membrane integrity), fluorescein diacetate (FDA, esterase activity) and rhodamine 123 (Rh123, mitochondrial membrane potential). The impact of metals on chlorophyll a (Chl a) autofluorescence was also evaluated. Esterase activity was the most sensitive parameter. At the concentrations studied, all metals induced the loss of esterase activity. SG could be used to effectively detect the loss of membrane integrity in algal cells exposed to 0.32 or 1.3 mol L1 Cu(II). Rh123 revealed a decrease in the mitochondrial membrane potential of algal cells exposed to 0.32 and 1.3 mol L1 Cu(II), indicating that mitochondrial activity was compromised. Chl a autofluorescence was also affected by the presence of Cr(VI) and Cu(II), suggesting perturbation of photosynthesis. In conclusion, the fluorescence-based approach was useful for detecting the disturbance of specific cellular characteristics. Fluorescent probes are a useful diagnostic tool for the assessment of the impact of toxicants on specific targets of P. subcapitata algal cells.The authors thank the FCT Strategic Project PEst-OE/EQB/LA0023/2013. Manuela D. Machado gratefully acknowledges the post-doctoral grant from FCT (SFRH/BPD/72816/2010)

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This paper was published in Universidade do Minho: RepositoriUM.

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