Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 423–433 | Cite as

Bio-assessment and remediation of arsenic (arsenite As-III) in water by Euglena gracilis

  • Sidra Tahira
  • Sarzamin Khan
  • Samrana Samrana
  • Lubna Shahi
  • Imran Ali
  • Waheed Murad
  • Zia ur Rehman
  • Azizullah AzizullahEmail author


Arsenic (As) is a serious pollutant of water bodies. Its presence in water can cause severe health problems in humans and may also induce serious toxicological effects in aquatic organisms. Euglena gracilis, a unicellular freshwater flagellate, is considered very sensitive to environmental pollutants. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the responses of different parameters in E. gracilis toward arsenite (As-III) toxicity and to assess As-III removal potential of E. gracilis from water by calculating bio-concentration factor (BCF). Under the optimized experimental conditions (0.1 to 10 mg L−1 of As-III, (pH 6.8) 7-day exposure), various parameters of E. gracilis like cell growth, motility, cell velocity (speed), cell shape, gravitactic orientation, biochemical parameters, and oxidative-stress markers were measured as endpoints. The experimental results showed that cell growth and photosynthetic pigments (chlorophyll a, b, and total carotenoids) were significantly affected at higher concentrations of As-III, while slight stimulation was observed in motility, orientation, and cell compactness of E. gracilis. Similarly, an increase was observed in total soluble protein and sugar content which can be regarded as a protective strategy in response of As-III stress. The adverse effects of As-III in E. gracilis can be attributed to oxidative stress as revealed by the results for oxidative markers. E. gracilis removed 13.3% of As-III from the medium with a calculated 0.27 mg As-III g−1 DW of E. gracilis. The calculated BCF, an index of the potential of accumulating metal/metalloids, in this study was 27 showing E. gracilis as accumulator but not hyper-accumulator of As-III. It is concluded that cell growth and photosynthetic pigments in E. gracilis were adversely affected by As-III and can be used as indicators of the adverse effects of As-III to aquatic autotrophs. E. gracilis can be recommended as accumulator (but not hyper-accumulator) for removal of As-III from water.


Arsenic Bio-assessment Bioremediation Antioxidants Cell growth Photosynthetic pigments 



We are thankful to all supporting staff at the Department of Botany, KUST.

Funding information

The study was supported by the International Foundation for Science through grant W-5701-1.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare no conflict of interest. The work was a part of M. Phil thesis of Sidra Tahira submitted to Kohat University of Science and Technology, Kohat.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sidra Tahira
    • 1
  • Sarzamin Khan
    • 2
  • Samrana Samrana
    • 1
  • Lubna Shahi
    • 3
  • Imran Ali
    • 4
  • Waheed Murad
    • 5
  • Zia ur Rehman
    • 4
  • Azizullah Azizullah
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BotanyKohat University of Science and TechnologyKohatPakistan
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of SwabiAnbarPakistan
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyHazara UniversityManseraPakistan
  4. 4.Department of Biotechnology and Genetic EngineeringKohat University of Science and TechnologyKohatPakistan
  5. 5.Department of BotanyAbdul Wali Khan UniversityMardanPakistan

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