Ecotoxicology (London, England)

The effects of the herbicide atrazine on freshwater snails.

PMID 25971234


Atrazine has been shown to affect freshwater snails from the subcellular to community level. However, most studies have used different snail species, methods, endpoints, and atrazine exposure concentrations, resulting in some conflicting results and limiting our understanding. The goal of this study was to address these concerns by (1) investigating the acute and chronic effects of atrazine on four species of freshwater snails (Biomphalaria glabrata, Helisoma trivolvis, Physa acuta, and Stagnicola elodes) using the same methods, endpoints, and concentrations, and (2) summarizing the current literature pertaining to the effects of atrazine on freshwater snails. We conducted a 48 h acute toxicity test with an atrazine concentration higher than what typically occurs in aquatic environments (1000 µg/L). Additionally, we exposed snails to environmentally relevant atrazine concentrations (0, 0.3, 3, and 30 µg/L) for 28 days and assessed snail survival, growth, and reproduction. We also summarized all known literature pertaining to atrazine effects on freshwater snails. The literature summary suggests snails are often affected by environmentally relevant atrazine concentrations at the subcellular and cellular levels. These effects are typically not transitive to effects on survival, growth, or reproduction at the same concentrations. Our acute exposures corroborate the general trend of no direct effect on snail populations as atrazine did not directly affect the survival of any of the four snail species. Similarly, environmentally relevant concentrations did not significantly affect the survival, growth, or reproduction of any snail species. These results indicate that, in the absence of other possible stressors, the direct effects of environmentally relevant atrazine concentrations may not be realized at the snail population level.