Mutagenic potency in Salmonella typhimurium of organic extracts of soil samples originating from urban, suburban, agricultural, forest and natural areas
The purpose of the present work was to assess the mutagenic potency of soil samples presumably not contaminated by industrial wastes and discharges. A set of 51 soil samples was collected from areas considered as not contaminated by a known industrial activity: 11 urban samples (collected in cities), 15 suburban samples (collected in villages), 7 agricultural samples, and 18 forest or natural samples. Each soil sample was collected at the surface (0-5cm deep), dried, sieved (2mm), homogenized before organic extraction (dichloromethane/acetone 1/1 (v/v), 37 degrees C, 4h, soil/solvent ratio 1/2, m/v), solvent exchange to DMSO and sterilizing filtration. The micro-method adaptation of the standard bacterial mutagenicity test on Salmonella typhimurium strain TA98 was performed with and without a metabolic activation system (rat-liver homogenate S9), and thus detected the effect of pro-mutagens and direct mutagens, respectively. The use of a pre-incubation method increased the sensitivity of the assay. The results obtained showed a wide range of effect levels, from no effect to clear mutagenicity. In particular, the extract of all 11 urban soil samples demonstrated mutagenic activity, while the extracts of 10 of the 15 suburban samples showed mutagenicity. On the other hand, the extract of only one of the 7 agricultural samples studied induced mutations, and none of the 18 natural or forest-soil samples investigated produced mutagenic extracts. These findings seem to indicate the crucial influence of the diffuse pollution originating from different human activities on the mutagenic potency of urban soil samples. These findings make it possible to classify the soils according to their mutagenic potency. No clear correlation was found between the mutagenicity detected in soil extracts and the measured polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content of the soils investigated.
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