, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1461–1466

Endocrine disruption of sexual selection by an estrogenic herbicide in the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor)


    • Department of Molecular Biology and BiochemistrySchool of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Makensey Matlock
    • Biology ProgramTexas A&M University-Texarkana
  • Justin Treas
    • The Institute of Environmental and Human HealthTexas Tech University
  • Barroq Safi
    • Department of Biological SciencesTexas State University
  • Wendy Sanson
    • Department of Biological SciencesLouisiana State University-Shreveport, One University Place
  • Jamie L. McCallum
    • Department of Biological and Earth SciencesUniversity of Central Missouri

DOI: 10.1007/s10646-013-1132-3

Cite this article as:
McCallum, M.L., Matlock, M., Treas, J. et al. Ecotoxicology (2013) 22: 1461. doi:10.1007/s10646-013-1132-3


The role that endocrine disruption could play in sexual selection remains relatively untested, and although estrogens occur in insects, little information exists about their biological role in insect reproduction. Atrazine is a commonly applied herbicide that mimics estrogen in vertebrates. Tenebrio molitor were raised from egg to adult under a gradation of environmentally relevant atrazine exposures and a non-treated control. Atrazine was delivered in the drinking water ad libitum. Female T. molitor were provided with a choice between unrelated males raised under three levels of atrazine exposures. Female preference for males demonstrated a non-monotonic inverted U-shaped response to atrazine exposure. There was no significant difference between the control and the high exposure to atrazine. Excluding the control, female preference increased as exposure concentration increased. These results have important repercussions for nonlethal effects of endocrine disruption on populations, their capacity to interfere with sexual selection, and the role of estrogen in pheromone communication among insects.


AtrazineEndocrine disruptionSexual selectionEstrogenNon-monotonic response

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013