Journal of agricultural and food chemistry

Enantioselective degradation and ecotoxicity of the chiral herbicide diclofop in three freshwater alga cultures.

PMID 18318497


Aryloxyphenoxypropanoates are a class of chiral herbicides. They have a pair of enantiomers, only the R(+) form of which is herbicidally active. Diclofop, the model compound of these herbicides, is commercialized as the racemate of the ester form, diclofop-methyl, consisting of a 1:1 mixture of the enantiomers. This study evaluated the enantioselectivity in aquatic toxicity and biodegradation of diclofop and diclofop-methyl. The herbicidally inactive S(-) enantiomers of both diclofop-methyl and diclofop were similar to or higher than the corresponding R(+) forms in toxicity to algae, depending on specific species. Although no enantiomeric conversion occurred for diclofop-methyl and diclofop, the difference in the enantioselective degradation of these herbicides observed in algae cultures suggested that their application forms were an important factor determining their enantioselective environmental behavior. The cell permeability and heat treatment of algae revealed that the enantioselective degradation of diclofop in algae cultures was governed primarily by the facilitated uptake by algae, whereas the enantioselective toxicity was primarily governed by the passive uptake. These results suggested that the acute toxicity test such as the 96 h EC 50 was insufficient to assess the ecological risk of chiral pesticides because of the differential degradation as well as possibly differential action sites of enantiomers. From this study, it was concluded that the enantioselective degradation and toxicity of chiral herbicides may result in their ecotoxicological effects being difficult to predict and that specific attention should thus be paid to currently used racemic pesticides as less active or inactive enantiomers may pose higher ecological risks.

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Diclofop-methyl, PESTANAL®, analytical standard