Tetrahymena spp. (Protista, Ciliophora) as Test Species in Rapid Multilevel Ecotoxicity Tests

Almut Gerhardt, Asad Ud-Daula, Karl-Werner Schramm


This review summarizes the application of Tetrahymena spp. in ecotoxicology, in order to promote a more integrated, multi-level ecotoxicological assessment approach regarding the effects of chemical stressors on several biological levels (from molecule to ecosystem). Such a multi-level testing approach in one species facilitates the establishment of missing causal relationships between biochemical responses and ecological effects. The review illustrates that Tetrahymena spp. represent excellent ecotoxicological test species due to their important role in the microbial foodweb, wide distribution and abundance, sequenced genome in T. thermophila, large background knowledge and scientific publications in cellular biology, ecology and ecotoxicology. Several bioassays have already been developed on different biological organisation levels, such as enzyme assays (biochemical level), behavioral tests (individual level), population growth tests (population level) and microcosms (community level). Moreover, specific mode-of-action based assays are available (e.g. genotoxicity), or are in development (e.g. endocrine disruption and neurotoxicity). Tetrahymena spp. combine traits of (1) a single cell, thus might replace or complement specific cell-line testing approaches, with traits of (2) a whole organism and population, thus allowing to study complete metabolic pathways and its consequences on population growth and genetic adaptation. Assays involving Tetrahymena spp. might easily be adapted for a rapid multi-level in situ or ex situ toxicity biosensor test system for ecologically relevant risk assessment.

Słowa kluczowe

Biotest, biomarker, biosensor, population growth, toxicity test, risk assessment

Pełny tekst:



  • There are currently no refbacks.