Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Comparative responses of two species of marine phytoplankton to metolachlor exposure.

PMID 23220412


Metolachlor, a chloroacetanilide herbicide, has been frequently detected in coastal waters. This study examined the growth, photosynthesis, and detoxification responses of chlorophyte Dunaliella tertiolecta (DT) and brown tide alga Aureococcus anophagefferens (AA) upon 5-day exposure to 0.5-5 mg L(-1) metolachlor. Growth was assessed with exponential growth rate, and 5th day in vivo chlorophyll fluorescence, chlorophyll a, b or c, cell density and cell size. The photosynthesis function was assessed with photochemical parameters of photosystem II (PSII) during the mid-exponential growth phase (i.e. 2-4 day metolachlor exposure). The biochemical detoxification was analyzed with glutathione production and metolachlor degradation. Results show that metolachlor caused up to ∼9% inhibition in growth rate in both species and an expected ∼35% and 25% inhibition in chlorophyll based endpoints in DT and AA respectively. DT had an up to 70% inhibition in cell density, but AA a 35% hormesis at 1 mg L(-1) metolachlor and no significant inhibition, as compared to the controls. Both DT and AA's cell sizes were enlarged by metolachlor exposure, but greater in DT (1.2% per mg L(-1)) than in AA (0.68% per mg L(-1)). On PSII photochemistry, maximum quantum yield was not affected in both species; PSII optical cross section and connectivity factor increased in DT but decreased in AA, suggesting species specific impact on PSII function. On detoxification responses, glutathione production, when normalized to total chlorophyll a, was not affected by metolachlor in both species; further, despite of heterotrophic capacity of A. anophagefferens metolachlor was not significantly degraded by this alga during the 5-day incubation. The species specific effects on algal growth have ecological implications of potential selective inhibition of chlorophytes by metolachlor herbicide.