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Plant based bioassays, i.e. micronucleus experiments with mitotic root tip cells of Allium and Vicia and with meiotic early tetrads cells of Tradescantia, have been used for more than 40 years in environmental monitoring and are highly sensitive to relevant groups of environmental mutagens, such as heavy metals, radionuclides, air pollutants and certain agrochemicals. Some of these toxins cause negative or only weak effects in bacterial assays and in mammalian cells. Due to their high sensitivity, plant tests can be used for in situ monitoring. The advantages of their use are that the experiments are inexpensive and simple and that no concentration of environmental samples is required. For these reasons, they are useful components of test batteries for the detection of mutagens in complex environmental mixtures.

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