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Heliyon. 2019 Aug 20;5(8):e02221. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e02221. eCollection 2019 Aug.

Turbidity matters: differential effect of a 2,4-D formulation on the structure of microbial communities from clear and turbid freshwater systems.

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Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
CONICET, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Instituto de Ecología, Genética y Evolución de Buenos Aires (IEGEBA), Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Depto. de Biodiversidad y Biología Experimental, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Centro de Investigaciones Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos, Argentina.
Instituto Tecnológico de Chascomús (INTECH), UNSAM-CONICET, Chascomús, Argentina.
CONICET, Instituto de Química Biológica de la Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales (IQUIBICEN), Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Departamento de Química Biológica, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


We evaluated the effect of AsiMax 50®, a commercial formulation of 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), on the structure of both micro + nano phytoplankton (>2 μm; species composition and abundance) and cytometric populations (photosynthetic picoplankton (PPP, 0.2-2 μm), which included prokaryotic phycocyanin-rich picocyanobacteria (PC-Pcy), phycoerythrin-rich picocyanobacteria (PE-Pcy) and eukaryotic phototrophs (PEuk); and bacterioplankton (HB), heterotrophic bacteria), using a microcosms-based approach and a single 7-day exposure. Assays were performed on two different microbial assemblages sampled from freshwater bodies of two contrasting turbidity status: clear (chlorophyll a = 7.6 μgL-1, turbidity = 1 NTU) and organic turbid systems (chlorophyll a = 25.0 μgL-1, turbidity = 9 NTU). For each system, the herbicide was applied to 500 mL-Erlenmeyer flasks, at seven concentration levels of the active ingredient (a.i.): 0 (control = no addition), 0.02, 0.2, 2, 20, 200 and 2,000 mg a.i.L-1. The impact of AsiMax 50® seemed to be greater in the turbid system. In this system, total abundance of living (live) micro + nano phytoplankton showed a significant increase at lower concentrations and data were fitted to a humped-shaped curve. For both clear and organic turbid systems, micro + nano phytoplankton decreased in species richness and abundance at higher herbicide concentrations. These results suggest that 2,4-D may mimic hormonal function. Some species, such as Ochromonas sp. and Chlamydomonas sp., showed different responses to herbicide exposure between water systems. In the turbid system, the increase in abundance of the PPP fraction observed at 7-d exposure was probably due to either an increase in PE-Pcy (thus suggesting the existence of auxin pathways) or a reduction in competitive pressure by micro + nano plankton. Our results provide some evidence of the importance of using community-scale approaches in ecotoxicological studies to predict changes in freshwater ecosystems exposed to a 2,4-D-based formulation. However, caution must be taken when extrapolating these effects to real scenarios, as assays were based on a laboratory microcosm experiment.


2,4-D; Ecology toxicology; Freshwater ecosystems; Microbial communities; Microcosms; Organic turbidity

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