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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2010 Jul;73(5):949-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2010.04.001. Epub 2010 May 7.

Sunlight decreased genotoxicity of azadirachtin on root tip cells of Allium cepa and Eucrosia bicolor.

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Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Silpakorn University, Nakhon Pathom 73000, Thailand.


Utilization of neem plant (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) extract for pest control in agriculture has raised concerns over contamination by the residues to the environment. Such residues, particularly azadirachtin (Aza), may cause deleterious effect to non-target organisms. This investigation was conducted to find out if Aza could be inactivated through exposures to sunlight. Activity of Aza was assessed as its ability to cause cytotoxic and genotoxic effects in the forms of nuclei abnormality and chromosome aberration as measured by mitotic index (MI) and mitotic aberration (MA). Varying concentrations of Aza were tested on Allium cepa and Eucrosia bicolor. It was found that the MI of all root tip meristematic cells of A. cepa and E. bicolor treated with 0.00005%, 0.00010%, 0.00015%, and 0.00020% (w/v) Aza-containing neem extract for 24h, were significantly lower than the controls. Complementary to the lower levels of MI, the Aza-treated groups showed higher MA levels in all cases investigated. Furthermore, the decreasing levels of MI and the increasing levels of MA related well with the increasing concentration of Aza. Microscopic examination of root tip meristematic cells revealed that the anomaly found most often were mitotic disturbances and chromosomal bridges. Exposures of 0.00020% (w/v) Aza to sunlight for 3 days and 7 days decreased Aza ability to induce cytotoxicity and genotoxicity, both in terms of MI and MA, to root tip meristematic cells in A. cepa and E. bicolor. Photodegradation of Aza upon exposure to direct sunlight was confirmed by HPLC. The study implicates that Aza would unlikely cause long term deleterious effects to the environment since it would be inactivated by sunlight.

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