Evaluation of expired Over-The-Counter medicines on germination and seedling growth of some plants
Federal University of Paraiba (UFPB)
Departament of Biotechnology
Ulrich Vasconcelos
Ulrich Vasconcelos
English and Portuguese
8 weeks
Cities/Months Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Augt Sep Oct Nov Dec
No No Yes No Yes No No Yes Yes No No No
Type of Research Project
- Basic science
What is the background of the project?
Pharmaceutical active compounds are regarding as emerging contaminants. In Brazil, the use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs is widespread. The disposal in soil of OTC drugs with exceeded expiration date is still a reality in many Brazilian cities, which may promote significant environmental impacts. One of the ways to verify the degree of toxicity of these substances to the soil biota is the ecotoxicity tests using plant seeds. Despite results may indicate the health status of the soil, these assays are good tool to evaluate the effectiveness of biological removal treatments as well as to select potential plants to be applied in phytoremediation.
What is the aim of the project?
To evaluate the potential of agronomic plant species with high annual biomass yield for toxicity removal from OTC leachate.
What techniques and methods are used?
 Simple dilution – preparation of solutions contained Over-The-Counter drug classes (pain killers, antipyretic, antitussives...).  Phytotoxicity tests: germination index determination, growth inhibition, root mensurement, biomass mensurement. These assays will be carried out using petri dishes, monocotyledon and dicotyledon seeds (min. 10 seeds per Petri dishes), filter paper and pachymeter). Tests will be carried out within 5 days in triplicate. Incubation conditions are: absence of light at 22°C  Data analysis using statiscal tools.
What is the role of the student?
- The student will observe the practical experiments but will be highly involved in the analysis of the results
What are the tasks expected to be accomplished by the student?
The student will be part of following activities to be known: sampling; screening of the Over-The-Counter drugs; preparation of Over-The-Counter drugs solutions; seed selection. At this stage the test allows the use of any plant (edible or ornamental); root lenght mensurements; counting of germinated seeds; biomass weighing; laboratory routine procedures; readings of scientific literature; discussion and interpretation of results with his/her supervisor; and preparing a manuscript.
Will there be any theoretical teaching provided (preliminary readings, lectures, courses, seminars etc)
The student will have classes regarding the issue to understand the basis of biological removal of pharmaceuticals and its importance. Didatic material will be provided by articles/books reading. All practical procedures under my supervision and supported by workmates. Results will be discussed together in order to elaborate scientific reports
What is expected from the student at the end of the research exchange? What will be the general outcome of the student?
- The student will prepare a scientific report
- The student’s name will be mentioned in a future publication
What skills are required of the student? Is there any special knowledge or a certain level of studies needed?
Be proactive and have a minimum knowledge of basic laboratory equipment: precision weighing scale, stove incubator, among others. It is also important that the student to believe that the environment health directly implies in human health
Are there any legal limitations in the student’s involvement
Type of students accepted
This project accepts:
- Medical students
- Graduated students (less than 6 months)
- Pre-Medical students from the American-British system
- Students in biomedical fields
- Carvalho PN; Basto MCP; Almeida CMR; and Brix H. 2016. A review of plant–pharmaceutical interactions: from uptake and effects in crop plants to phytoremediation in constructed wetlands. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 21:11729–11763. DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-2550-3
- Cavalcanti TG; Viana AAG; Guedes TP; Freire AS; Travassos RA; and Vasconcelos U. 2016. Seed options for toxicity tests in soils contaminated with oil. Can J Pure Appl Sci. 10(3):4039-4045.
- Sauvé S; and Desrosier M. 2014. A review of what is an emerging contaminant. Chem Cent J. 8(1): 1-15. DOI: 10.1186/1752-153X-8-15.
- Shika S; and Gauba P. 2016. Phytoremediation of pharmaceutical products. Innovare J Life Sci. 4(3): 14-17.
- Vaverková MD; Zloch J; Adamcová D; Radziemska M; Vyhnánek T; Trojan V; Winkler J; Dordević B; Elbl J; and Brtnický. 2019. Landfill leachate effects on germination and seedling growth of hemp (Cannabis satila L.). Waste Biomass Valor. 10(2): 369-376.