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Acute Toxic Effects of the Herbicide Formulation and the Active Ingredient Used in Cycloxydim-Tolerant Maize Cultivation on Embryos and Larvae of the African Clawed Frog, Xenopus laevis

Abstract

Most genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops are still awaiting approval in Europe. There is, however, a recent trend for the cultivation of cycloxydim-tolerant maize hybrids for use in maize production. We studied the acute toxic effects of the complementary herbicide Focus® Ultra and its active ingredient cycloxydim on embryos and early-stage larvae of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). The results indicate that the herbicide formulation is significantly more toxic than the active ingredient alone. Therefore, it is suggested that the added substances either solely or in a synergistic action with the active ingredient are responsible for adverse effects. The formulation was found to be moderately toxic to embryos but highly toxic to early larvae. Based on calculated teratogenic indices, both cycloxydim and Focus® Ultra seem to be non-teratogenic and also the minimum Focus® Ultra concentration to inhibit growth in embryos and larvae was close to the LC50 values. The data suggest that tests with the rainbow trout are not in all cases appropriate to assess the risk in aquatically developing anurans. This is demonstrated by 96-h LC50 values, which are for rainbow trout more than 50- to 20-fold higher than for early X. laevis larvae. However, based on worst-case predicted environmental concentrations for surface waters, there is apparently a large safety margin in field use of Focus® Ultra if buffer strips between the farm land and the amphibian habitats are regarded.

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Acknowledgments

Permissions to conduct the experiments were granted by the Landesuntersuchungsamt (Koblenz, Germany) and the veterinary office Trier-Saarburg (Trier, Germany). We are grateful for financial support from the “Graduiertenkolleg 1319 - Verbesserung von Normsetzung und Normanwendung im integrierten Umweltschutz durch rechts- und naturwissenschaftliche Kooperation” at Trier University, which was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Joseph D. Chipperfield helped with the English language. Reinhard Bierl (Department of Hydrology, Trier University) conducted the water analysis. Maximilian Schneider measured the fixed individuals.

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Correspondence to Norman Wagner.

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Wagner, N., Lötters, S., Veith, M. et al. Acute Toxic Effects of the Herbicide Formulation and the Active Ingredient Used in Cycloxydim-Tolerant Maize Cultivation on Embryos and Larvae of the African Clawed Frog, Xenopus laevis . Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 94, 412–418 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-015-1474-z

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Keywords

  • Focus® Ultra
  • FETAX
  • Amphibian decline
  • Pesticides
  • Corn