Allium cepa test in environmental monitoring: A review on its application
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Higher plants are recognized as excellent genetic models to detect environmental mutagens and are frequently used in monitoring studies. Among the plant species, Alium cepa has been used to evaluate DNA damages, such as chromosome aberrations and disturbances in the mitotic cycle. Employing the A. cepa as a test system to detect mutagens dates back to the 40s. It has been used to this day to assess a great number of chemical agents, which contributes to its increasing application in environmental monitoring. The A. cepa is characterized as a low cost test. It is easily handled and has advantages over other short-term tests that require previous preparations of tested samples, as well as the addition of exogenous metabolic system. Higher plants, even showing low concentrations of oxidase enzymes and a limitation in the substrate specification in relation to other organism groups, present consistent results that may serve as a warning to other biological systems, since the target is DNA, common to all organisms. The A. cepa test also enables the evaluation of different endpoints. Among the endpoints, chromosome aberrations have been the most used one to detect genotoxicity along the years. The mitotic index and some nuclear abnormalities are used to evaluate citotoxicity and analyze micronucleus to verify mutagenicity of different chemicals. Moreover, the A. cepa test system provides important information to evaluate action mechanisms of an agent about its effects on the genetic material (clastogenic and/or aneugenic effects). In the face of all the advantages that the A. cepa test system offers, it has been widely used to assess the impacts caused by xenobiotics, characterizing an important tool for environmental monitoring studies, where satisfactory results have been reported. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.