Anionic surfactants are the major class of surfactants used in detergent, laundry and related industries. Hence, they are a major contaminate of both domestic and industrial waste streams. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv Waldemann's Green) was grown in nutrient solutions with the addition of the anionic surfactant, Igepon TC-42. The toxic response of lettuce to Igepon was that the roots turned brown and became necrotic within 24 h following exposure. Growth was supressed for approximately 4 days following exposure to concentration greater than 0.35 mM; new roots formed rapidly and growth resumed. When fresh plants were transferred to the solutions containing Igepon 48 h following introduction of the surfactant no signs of toxicity were observed. This would indicate that either the first series of plants absorbed the toxic material or the Igepon was decayed or degraded in the nutrient solution. The rapid recovery of plants from this stress suggests the potential of a wide range of strategies that could be developed for utilizing waste streams containing anionic surfactants.
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