Endocrine Disruptors and Health Effects in Africa: A Call for Action.
It has long been understood that the presence of endocrine disrupter chemicals (EDCs) in water can affect the reproductive, behavioural and regulatory systems of different types of mammals. Thus far, only a handful of studies have examined its impact on plant systems. Present research is limited to the potential uptake of these chemicals by plants and the general phytotoxic effects it can elicit. The aim of this study was to determine what effect an EDC has on developing plant and cell organelles and how it affects it. In this study, cos lettuce plants were exposed to different concentrations of nonylphenol (NP), an EDC, in a static hydroponic system. Changes in plant morphology, mass and length, chlorophyll content, as well as electrolyte leakage were examined. Furthermore an in-depth investigation of the plant cell ultrastructure was carried out with transmission electron microscopy. Results indicated that cos lettuce growth was severely restricted, chlorophyll content was reduced, leakage of electrolytes increased and roots were stunted especially after ≥3200 μg/l NP exposures. The structure of the rough endoplasmic reticulum, vacuole and chloroplast were also changed. This study emphasizes the importance of water quality management, since the presence of an EDC, like NP, can negatively impact the yield and internal structure of one of the world's most significant salad crops, namely lettuce.