Environment international

Effects of atrazine and nicosulfuron on freshwater microalgae.

PMID 11341696


Growth modifications caused by various concentrations of atrazine and nicosulfuron were monitored in closed and continuous culture of Chlorella vulgaris (chlorophyta), Navicula accommoda (diatomophyta), and Oscillatoria limnetica (cyanophyta). The concentration at which algal growth rate was reduced twofold (EC50) was determined in the three species for both herbicides. Comparatively, the two toxicants were applied at 10 microg/l level in microcosms inoculated with natural phytoplankton from Lake Geneva. The relative abundances of major phytoplanktonic species were measured by algal cell count at the beginning and at the end of each experiment. Atrazine and nicosulfuron have different targets in plant metabolism, respectively, photosystem II (PSII) and acetolactate synthase (ALS), and the expected effects were different. Generally, the cultured phytoplankton exhibited various sensitivities, depending on species or herbicide. In the microcosms, the major taxa of natural phytoplanktonic samples exhibited various patterns, from acute toxicity to growth enhancement. For example, the diatoms inside the community were not affected by atrazine and nicosulfuron, except for Stephanodiscus minutulus that was sensitive to both, and Asterionella/formosa that was sensitive only to nicosulfuron. The specific physiology and the relationships among the phytoplanktonic communities have to be carefully considered when one would try to predict the extent of herbicide action on natural phytoplankton using in vitro tests. There is a need to test the toxic effect on various cultured strains, representative of most of the taxonomic composition of natural communities, to take into account the wide range of sensitivities and reaction to herbicide contamination. But this is not enough to give a solid frame when transposing the results to the field, and the use of more ecologically relevant systems is recommended.

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Nicosulfuron, PESTANAL®, analytical standard