Effects of the biocide triclosan on multiple life stages of ferns Onoclea sensibilis and Osmunda claytoniana

Mark Brian Watson, Morgan Blackmon, Devon Skye Williams, Autumn Wyatt


The chemical triclosan is an antibacterial agent that was used in many consumer products, such as soaps, lotions, toothpaste, cosmetics and other personal care products.  Triclosan passes through the processes of wastewater treatment plants and ultimately contaminates rivers and other waterways.  The soil is also contaminated using wastewater sludge or biosolids as fertilizer on agricultural and reclamation land projects.   Triclosan has been shown to inhibit seed germination, growth rate, and development in wide variety of plants including many crop plants.   Aquatic algae are particularly sensitive to low levels of triclosan.              The purpose of this experiment is to investigate the effects of triclosan on the life cycle of the sensitive fern (Osmunda claytoniana), and the royal fern (Onoclea sensibilis).  The use of ferns in this study is important because they share a phylogenetic link between algae and higher plants.  Ferns also have a distinct heteromorphic life cycle that lends itself to examining the effects of environmental chemicals on different aspects of plant development.  Spores were germinated, grown to gametophyte stage and then allowed to produce sporophytes in the presence of concentrations of triclosan measured in contaminated agricultural lands.  Triclosan was found to inhibit spore germination, gametophyte growth and alter sporophyte development.


fern, triclosan, gametophyte, sporophyte

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