This work investigated the cytotoxic and genotoxic potential of water from the River Paraíba do Sul (Brazil) using Allium cepa roots. An anatomo-morphological parameter (root length), mitotic indices, and frequency of micronuclei were analysed. Eight bulbs were chosen at random for treatment for 24 to 120 hours with the River water collected in the years of 2005 and 2006 from sites in the cities of Tremembé and Aparecida (São Paulo state, Brazil). Daily measurements of the length of the roots grown from each bulb were carried out throughout the experiment. Mitotic index (MI) and frequency of micronuclei (MN) were determined for 2000 cells per root, using 3-5 root tips from other bulbs (7-10). Only in the roots treated with samples of the River water collected in 2005 in Tremembé city was there a decrease in the root length growth compared to the respective control. However, a reduction in MI values was verified for both sites analysed for that year. Considering the data involving root length growth and especially MI values, a cytotoxic potential is suggested for the water of the River Paraíba do Sul at Tremembé and Aparecida, in the year of 2005. On the other hand, since in this year the MN frequency was not affected with the river water treatments, genotoxicity is not assumed for the river water sampled at the aforementioned places.
cytotoxicity; genotoxicity; Allium cepa; mitotic index; River Paraíba do Sul