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Effects of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup WeatherMax on metamorphosis of wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) in natural wetlands
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Chantal LanctotChantal Lanctot, C Robertson, L Navarro-Martín, C Edge, Steven MelvinSteven Melvin, J Houlahan, V Trudeau
Amphibian tadpoles develop in aquatic environments where they are susceptible to the effects of pesticides and other environmental contaminants. Glyphosate-based herbicides are currently the most commonly used herbicide in the world and have been shown to affect survival and development of tadpoles under laboratory and mesocosm conditions. In the present study, whole wetland manipulations were used to determine if exposure to an agriculturally relevant application of Roundup WeatherMax, a herbicide formulation containing the potassium salt of glyphosate and an undisclosed surfactant, influences the development of wood frog tadpoles (Lithobates sylvaticus) under natural conditions. Wetlands were divided in half with an impermeable curtain so that each wetland contained a treatment and control side. Tadpoles were exposed to two pulses of this herbicide at an environmentally realistic concentration (ERC, 0.21 mg acid equivalent (a.e.)/L) and the predicted maximum environmental concentration (PMEC, 2.89 mg a.e./L), after which abundance, growth, development, and mRNA levels of genes involved in tadpole metamorphosis were measured. Results present little evidence that exposure to this herbicide affects abundance, growth and development of wood frog tadpoles. As part of the Long-term Experimental Wetlands Area (LEWA) project, this research demonstrates that typical agricultural use of Roundup WeatherMax poses minimal risk to larval amphibian development. However, our gene expression data (mRNA levels) suggests that glyphosate-based herbicides have the potential to alter hormonal pathways during tadpole development.