The growing need in assessing the effects of anthropogenic pollutants towards marine and estuarine ecosystems lead to the development of a large array of standardized toxicity testing protocols, with the involvement of multispecies and multithrophic studies. Among suitable test organisms, algal species are of great importance since they are inserted in key positions of food webs (representative of the producers trophic level). Small changes in environmental factors may have effects on algal populations and cause serious disturbances in the fragile balance of the ecosystems. From an ecotoxicological standpoint, algae can be pointed as appropriate test organisms due to their ecological relevance, simple practical conditions of rearing and testing, an also because their short life cycles and abundance deeply contribute to availability and possibility of wide use. The present paper intends to summarize the use of algal species in Ecotoxicology, always having in mind future prospects of use and directions into which algal-based ecotoxicity testing can evolve.
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