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Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jun;111(7):919-24.

Insecticidal juvenile hormone analogs stimulate the production of male offspring in the crustacean Daphnia magna.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7633, USA.


Juvenile hormone analogs (JHAs) represent a class of insecticides that were designed specifically to disrupt endocrine-regulated processes relatively unique to insects. Recently we demonstrated that the crustacean juvenoid hormone methyl farnesoate programs oocytes of the crustacean Daphnia magna to develop into males. We hypothesized that insecticidal JHAs might mimic the action of methyl farnesoate, producing altered sex ratios of offspring. Daphnids were exposed chronically (3 weeks) to sublethal concentrations of methyl farnesoate, the JHA pyriproxyfen, and several nonjuvenoid chemicals to discern whether excess male offspring production is a generic response to stress or a specific response to juvenoid hormones. Only methyl farnesoate and pyriproxyfen increased the percentage of males produced by exposed maternal organisms. As previously reported with methyl farnesoate, acute exposure (24 hr) to either pyriproxyfen or the JHA methoprene caused oocytes maturing in the ovary to develop into males. We performed experiments to determine whether combined effects of a JHA and methyl farnesoate conformed better to a model of concentration addition (indicative of same mechanism of action) or independent joint action (indicative of different mechanisms of action). Combined effects conformed better to the concentration-addition model, although some synergy, of unknown etiology, was evident between the insecticides and the hormone. These experiments demonstrate that insecticidal JHAs mimic the action of the crustacean juvenoid hormone methyl farnesoate, resulting in the inappropriate production of male offspring. The occurrence of such an effect in the environment could have dire consequences on susceptible crustacean populations.

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