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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Jan 15;38(2):522-8.

Phenylpyrazole insecticide fipronil induces male infertility in the estuarine meiobenthic crustacean Amphiascus tenuiremis.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA.


Copepods are the most abundant arthropods on earth and are often the most important secondary producers in estuarine/marine food webs. The new GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)-disrupting insecticide fipronil (FP) induces unique sex-specific reproductive dysfunction in male meiobenthic copepods, leading to trans-generational population depression at environmentally realistic concentrations (0.63 microg/L). Using a newly developed 96-well microplate lifecycle bioassay, more than 700 individual Stage-I juveniles were reared to adulthood in as short as 12 days in only 200 microL of control (CTL) or 0.63 microg-FP/L seawater solution. Individual virgin male: female pairs were then cross-mated for all possible combinations within and across rearing treatments and allowed to mate for an additional 12 days in CTL or 0.63 microg-FP/L solution. FP at 0.63 microg/L caused no significant lethality to any mating combinations but evoked 73% or 89% inhibition of reproduction when FP-reared males were mated with either a control- or FP-reared female in FP solution, respectively. In contrast, when CTL-reared males were mated with FP-reared females in FP solution, there was no difference in reproductive success compared to FP-free controls. When FP-reared males were mated with either female group in FP-free solution, these mating pairs displayed a 3-day delay in time to brood sac extrusion but ultimately did reproduce. As fipronil (1) has a high K(ow), (2) is persistent in sediments where meiobenthic copepods live, and (3) has been detected in estuarine waters >0.7 microg/L, it may pose high risk to copepod production in estuarine systems.

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