The influence of Cu2 , Zn2 , Cd2 , Pb2 and formaldehyde on rhodopsin-mediated photoelectric responses in the green flagellate Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was investigated using three modifications of a recently developed population method for electrical recording (in nonoriented, phototactically preoriented (PO) and gravitactically preoriented cell suspensions). The addition of the heavy metal ions at concentrations several times lower than those known to affect swimming velocity and other physiological parameters in photosynthetic flagellates led to a rapid (one to several minutes) inhibition of the responses. Formaldehyde induced a significant temporary increase in the gravi-orientation of the cells simultaneously with an inhibition of their photoelectric cascade, photo-orientation and motility. The signals recorded in PO suspensions were more sensitive to all tested toxic substances than those recorded from nonoriented cells and indicated a switch from negative to positive phototaxis in the presence of the toxic substances. Of the two major components of the photoelectric cascade, the regenerative response was more sensitive to the tested heavy metal ions, but not to formaldehyde, than the photoreceptor current. The results obtained show that measurement of the photoinduced electrical responses in Chlamydomonas cell suspensions is a powerful novel bioassay for testing environmental pollutants in water samples.
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Vol. 72 • No. 3