The effect of 4-Nonylphenol on the pigmentation ofOcimum basilicum (Basil)

  • Carmen Diana Capota
  • Bernd Deventer
  • Ralf-Dieter Zimmermann
Research Article


Background, Aim and Scope

Tests during the last few years have confirmed that 4-nonylphenol (4-NP) can have oestrogenlike effects (xeno-hormone) on animal organisms. The objective was to firstly evaluate the ecotoxicological effects of 4-NP on plants such as hydrocultures. To clarify how this substance interferes with the photosynthetic system of plants, various tests were carried out using the basil plant (Ocimum basilicum).


The effect of the pollutant 4-NP on the pigment content in the leaves of the basil plant was analysed with the use of High-Performance-Liquid-Chromatography (HPLC).

Results and Discussion

A general assessment of the HPLC data revealed that plants that came in contact with the 4-nonylphenol showed a change in pigmentation. More chlorophyll a and b was produced, although at the same time a higher production of degradation products and by-products of the chlorophylls was observed. These occurrences can therefore be seen as an impairment of the photosynthetic process. The contaminated plants produced less xanthophylls than the non-contaminated ones, though these differences were statistically not significant.

Conclusion and Perspective

The variations on the pigment content in the leaves of the basil plant can be interpreted as a consequence of the 4-NP application. It was, however, not investigated whether the plants absorbed the pollutants directly. The effect could have been caused by adsorption of the oily substance to the roots, and this could have led to a hindrance of the uptake of nutrients and possibly water. In order to clarify this further, biochemical experiments are being conducted.


4-Nonylphenol basil hydroculture by-products, chlorophylls chlorophylls degradation products, chlorophylls HPLC (High-Performance-Liquid-Chromatography) Ocimum basilicum Xanthophylls xeno-hormone 


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Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carmen Diana Capota
    • 1
  • Bernd Deventer
    • 2
  • Ralf-Dieter Zimmermann
    • 2
  1. 1.Technische Universität DarmstadtFB BiologieDarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Fachhochschule BingenFR UmweltschutzBingenGermany

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