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Phytoremediation processes of domestic and textile effluents: evaluation of the efficacy and toxicological effects in Lemna minor and Daphnia magna


Phytoremediation has been proposed as a potential biotechnological strategy to remediate effluents before their release into the environment. The use of common aquatic plant species, such as macrophytes (e.g., Lemna spp.) as a cleanup solution has been proposed decades ago. However, the effectiveness of such processes must be assessed by analyzing the toxicity of resulting effluents, for the monitoring of wastewater quality. To attain this purpose, this work intended to quantify the efficacy of a Lemna-based wastewater phytoremediation process, by analyzing toxicological effects of domestic and textile effluents. The toxic effects were measured in Lemna minor (same organisms used in the phytoremediation process, by quantifying toxicological endpoints such as root length, pigment content, and catalase activity) and by quantifying individual parameters of Daphnia magna (immobilization, reproduction, and behavior analysis). Phytoremediation process resulted in a decrease of chemical oxygen demand in both effluents and in an increase in root length of exposed plants. Moreover, textile effluent decreased pigments content and increased catalase activity, while domestic effluent increased the anthocyanin content of exposed plants. D. magna acute tests allowed calculating a EC50 and Toxic Units interval of 53.82–66.89%/1.85–1.49, respectively, to raw textile effluent; however, it was not possible to calculate these parameters for raw and treated domestic effluent (RDE and TDE). Therefore, in general, the acute toxicity of effluent toward D. magna was null for RDE, and mild for the treated textile effluent (TTE), probably due to the effect of phytoremediation. Exposure to textile effluents (raw and treated) increased the total number of neonates of D. magna and, in general, both textile effluents decreased D. magna distance swim. Moreover, although both effluents were capable of causing morphological and physiological/biochemical alterations in L. minor plants, organisms of this species were able to survive in the presence of both effluents and to remediate them.

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Chlor a:

Chlorophyll a

Chlor b:

Chlorophyll b


Chemical oxygen demand


Phytoremediation control




Raw domestic effluent


Raw textile effluent


Total distance moved


Treated domestic effluent


Total swimming time


Treated textile effluent


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B.N. was hired through the Investigator FCT program (IF/01744/2013). Thanks also due to CESAM (UID/AMB/50017) for financial support and FCT through national funds and co-funding FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement. C.P. thanks Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) for the financial support of the postdoctoral stay in CESAM, Portugal. The authors also thank Engª Norberta Coelho and Águas do Norte—Grupo de Águas de Portugal.

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de Alkimin, G.D., Paisio, C., Agostini, E. et al. Phytoremediation processes of domestic and textile effluents: evaluation of the efficacy and toxicological effects in Lemna minor and Daphnia magna. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 4423–4441 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-07098-3

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  • Macrophyte
  • Biomarkers
  • Pigment analysis
  • Catalase activity
  • Behavior
  • Crustaceans