April 09, 2012

Roundup can cause amphibians to change shape

Cuatro Caminos Collective

From: Thomas Wittman <info@eco-farm.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2012 12:30:49 -0400 (EDT)
To: <ivcaminos@gmail.com>
ReplyTo: info@eco-farm.org
Subject: Roundup can cause amphibians to change shape

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Genetic Engineering News List

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Genetic Engineering News List

New Study Is First to Show That Pesticides Can Induce Morphological Changes in
Vertebrate Animals, Says Pitt Researcher

When exposed to the popular herbicide Roundup, tadpoles change shape in ways
that are normally induced by predators

University of Pittsburgh, March 30 2012

B. Rose Huber



Cell: 412-328-6008

PITTSBURGH- The world's most popular weed killer, Roundup, can cause amphibians
to change shape, according to research published today in Ecological

Rick Relyea, University of Pittsburgh professor of biological sciences in the
Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt's
Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, demonstrated that sublethal and
environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup® caused two species of
amphibians to alter their morphology. According to Relyea, this is the first
study to show that a pesticide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate

Relyea set up large outdoor water tanks that contained many of the components of
natural wetlands. Some tanks contained caged predators, which emit chemicals
that naturally induce changes in tadpole morphology (such as larger tails to
better escape predators). After adding tadpoles to each tank, he exposed them to
a range of Roundup® concentrations. After 3 weeks, the tadpoles were removed
from the tanks.

"It was not surprising to see that the smell of predators in the water induced
larger tadpole tails," says Relyea. "That is a normal, adaptive response. What
shocked us was that the Roundup® induced the same changes. Moreover, the
combination of predators and Roundup® caused the tail changes to be twice as
large." Because tadpoles alter their body shape to match their environment,
having a body shape that does not fit the environment can put the animals at a
distinct disadvantage.

Predators cause tadpoles to change shape by altering the stress hormones of
tadpoles, says Relyea. The similar shape changes when exposed to Roundup®
suggest that Roundup® may interfere with the hormones of tadpoles and
potentially many other animals.

"This discovery highlights the fact that pesticides, which are important for
crop production and human health, can have unintended consequences for species
that are not the pesticide's target," says Relyea. "Herbicides are not designed
to affect animals, but we are learning that they can have a wide range of
surprising effects by altering how hormones work in the bodies of animals. This
is important because amphibians not only serve as a barometer of the ecosystem's
health, but also as an indicator of potential dangers to other species in the
food chain, including humans."

For two decades, Relyea has studied community ecology, evolution, disease
ecology, and ecotoxicology. He has authored more than 80 scientific articles and
book chapters and has presented research seminars around the world. For more
information about his laboratory, visit www.pitt.edu/~relyea/.
The Genetic Engineering News is produced by Thomas Wittman and EcoFarm, and supported by a generous donation from the Newman's Own Foundation.  Please pass this vital information on.  If you would like to get on this list go to www.eco-farm.org and select Newsletters.

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