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Brandon Holowczak

Field Toxicology & Environmental Monitoring

Poster Session




In-situ assay development for testing soil and waterborne contaminant effects on wetland vegetation


Water quality deterioration poses a threat to the essential functions of valuable wetland ecosystems by influencing the health of their vegetation. Accurately quantifying and monitoring plant responses to waterborne contaminants is indispensable for preserving, enhancing, and restoring the ecosystem's functionality. Existing approaches utilizing greenhouse/growth room bioassays fail to capture temporal heterogeneity in water quality, potentially misrepresenting the health of an ecosystem or environment. My laboratory has developed a patented technology (US 10,603,700 B2, Mar. 31, 2020; CA 02891136 2015-08-07) which is an ecological monitoring device that can be used for plant germination and early-stage growth assays in field environments. These assays utilize commonly used and understood endpoints (seed germination/emergence, root/shoot length, and dry weight) along with ecologically relevant plant subjects to provide the most appropriate and tailored representation of how a specific environment may be impacted by its given water quality condition. As a result of these assays being conducted in-situ, they offer a more wholistic assessment of soil/water toxicity in the face of highly variable environmental conditions that traditional assessment methods may not capture. Moreover, our assays provide a versatile platform for evaluating an extensive variety of wetland plant species, spanning from emergent species to submerged macrophytes. This broad scope enables a comprehensive exploration of how different types of wetland vegetation interact with and respond to specific environmental parameters. By encompassing a diverse range of species, our assessments can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of specific wetland ecosystems.

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