Worldwide, there is an increasing awareness that the real hazard of environmental contaminants cannot be determined by just employing conventional chemical analysis.
The interest in biological testing is growing rapidly and toxicity testing is now gradually incorporated in environmental legislation in many countries. Toxicity test responses reflect the presence as well as the quantity of all individual pollutants present in the sample. The results hence are an effective integration of the toxicity of all the individual toxic substances present in the tested samples. Many of these are unlikely to be detected by conventional chemical testing.
The practical implementation of toxicity testing is, however, seriously hampered by the biological, technical and financial problems inherent to the continuous culturing/availability and maintenance of stocks of live test organisms in good health and in sufficient numbers.
As a result, application in most countries is to date restricted to a few highly specialized laboratories and rather seldom employed in routine environmental analysis.
Small-scale (miniaturized) bioassays have been developed over the last few years with selected test species, which are independent of the sourcing, the culturing and/or the maintenance of live stocks of test biota.
Pioneering work on the concept and the development of “culture/maintenance free” microbiotests has been performed by Prof. Dr. Guido Persoone and his research teams, first at the Laboratory for Biological Research in Aquatic Pollution at the Ghent University in Belgium and later in the company MicroBioTests Inc., in collaboration with scientists from several laboratories in different countries.
The culture/maintenance independent small-scale tests were given the generic name TOXKITS to emphasize their availability in handy robust kits containing all the materials needed for rapid and user-friendly performance of the assays.