Soil microorganisms are essential for soil health, so it is important that the methods used to assess pesticide toxicity reflect the impact of their use on this group of organisms. Recent studies have indicated that ammonia-oxidizing microbes (AOM), which perform the first and typically rate-limiting step of the important nutrient cycling process nitrification, are ideal microbial indicators of agrochemicals’ toxicity because of their key functional role, their sensitivity to xenobiotic compounds, and the availability of established tools to measure activity and abundance both in vitro and in situ.
As part of this project, we have been delighted to welcome Eleftheria Bachtsevani, who is working with us on her PhD project to examine how pesticides affect the microorganisms involved in nitrification. The goal is to develop novel bioassays that use soil nitrifiers as an ecotoxicity tool for characterising the impacts of pesticides on non-target soil microbes, and Eleftheria has been getting to grips with our MARA ecotoxicity tests as part of her work! More information about her project is available on the project website. Visit our ecotoxicity testing pages to find out more about our services in this area.