Developmental toxicity of metaldehyde in the embryos of Lymnaea stagnalis (Gastropoda: Pulmonata) co-exposed to the synergist piperonyl butoxide.
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Metaldehyde is a widely used molluscicide in countries where damage to crops from slugs and snails is a major problem associated with warm and wet winters. In the UK it is estimated that over 8% of the area covered by arable crops is treated with formulated granular bait pellets containing metaldehyde as the main active ingredient. Metaldehyde is hydrophilic (log Kow=0.12), water soluble (200 mg·L(-1) at 17 °C) and has been detected in UK surface waters in the concentration range of typically 0.2-0.6 μg·L(-1) (maximum 2.7 μg·L(-1)) during 2008-2011. In the absence of chronic data on potential hazards to non-target freshwater molluscs, a laboratory study was conducted to investigate the impact of metaldehyde on embryo development in the gastropod Lymnaea stagnalis (RENILYS strain) and using zinc as a positive control. L. stagnalis embryos were exposed to metaldehyde under semi-static conditions at 20±1 °C and hatching success and growth (measured as shell height and intraocular distance) examined after 21 d. Exposure concentrations were verified using HPLC and gave 21 d (hatching)NOEC and (hatching)LOEC mean measured values of 36 and 116 mg MET·L(-1), respectively (equal to the 21 d (shell height)NOEC and (shell height)LOEC values). For basic research purposes, a second group of L. stagnalis embryos was co-exposed to metaldehyde and the pesticide synergist piperonyl butoxide (PBO). Co-exposure to the PBO (measured concentrations between 0.47-0.56 mg·L(-1)) reduced hatching success from 100% to 47% and resulted in a 30% reduction in embryo growth (shell height) in snail embryos co-exposed to metaldehyde at 34-36 mg·L(-1) over 21 d. In conclusion, these data suggest mollusc embryos may have some metabolic detoxication capacity for metaldehyde and further work is warranted to explore this aspect in order to support the recent initiative to include molluscs in the OECD test guideline programme.
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