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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2018 Oct 30;84(22). pii: e01536-18. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01536-18. Print 2018 Nov 15.

Blame It on the Metabolite: 3,5-Dichloroaniline Rather than the Parent Compound Is Responsible for the Decreasing Diversity and Function of Soil Microorganisms.

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Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Department for Sustainable Food Process, Piacenza, Italy.
University of Thessaly, Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Laboratory of Plant and Environmental Biotechnology, Larissa, Greece.
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Faculty of Agriculture Forestry and Natural Environment, School of Agriculture, Pesticide Science Laboratory, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Department of Sustainable Crop Production, Piacenza, Italy.
University of Silesia, Department of Microbiology, Katowice, Poland.
Consiglio per la Ricerca e la Sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Centro di Ricerca per lo Studio delle Relazioni tra Pianti e Suolo, Gorizia, Italy.
Ecole Centrale de Lyon, Group of Environmental Microbial Genomics, Lyon, France.
Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Department for Sustainable Food Process, Piacenza, Italy


Pesticides are key stressors of soil microorganisms with reciprocal effects on ecosystem functioning. These effects have been mainly attributed to the parent compounds, while the impact of their transformation products (TPs) has been largely overlooked. We assessed in a meadow soil (soil A) the transformation of iprodione and its toxicity in relation to (i) the abundance of functional microbial groups, (ii) the activity of key microbial enzymes, and (iii) the diversity of bacteria, fungi, and ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms (AOM) using amplicon sequencing. 3,5-Dichloroaniline (3,5-DCA), the main iprodione TP, was identified as a key explanatory factor for the persistent reduction in enzymatic activities and potential nitrification (PN) and for the observed structural changes in the bacterial and fungal communities. The abundances of certain bacterial (Actinobacteria, Hyphomicrobiaceae, Ilumatobacter, and Solirubrobacter) and fungal (Pichiaceae) groups were negatively correlated with 3,5-DCA. A subsequent study in a fallow agricultural soil (soil B) showed limited formation of 3,5-DCA, which concurred with the lack of effects on nitrification. Direct 3,5-DCA application in soil B induced a dose-dependent reduction of PN and NO3 --N, which recovered with time. In vitro assays with terrestrial AOM verified the greater toxicity of 3,5-DCA over iprodione. "Candidatus Nitrosotalea sinensis" Nd2 was the most sensitive AOM to both compounds. Our findings build on previous evidence on the sensitivity of AOM to pesticides, reinforcing their potential utilization as indicators of the soil microbial toxicity of pesticides in pesticide environmental risk analysis and stressing the need to consider the contribution of TPs in the toxicity of pesticides on the soil microbial community.IMPORTANCE Pesticide toxicity on soil microorganisms is an emerging issue in pesticide risk assessment, dictated by the pivotal role of soil microorganisms in ecosystem services. However, the focus has traditionally been on parent compounds, while transformation products (TPs) are largely overlooked. We tested the hypothesis that TPs can be major contributors to the soil microbial toxicity of pesticides using iprodione and its main TP, 3,5-dichloroaniline, as model compounds. We demonstrated, by measuring functional and structural endpoints, that 3,5-dichloroaniline and not iprodione was associated with adverse effects on soil microorganisms, with nitrification being mostly affected. Pioneering in vitro assays with relevant ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea verified the greater toxicity of 3,5-dichloroaniline. Our findings are expected to advance environmental risk assessment, highlighting the potential of ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms as indicators of the soil microbial toxicity of pesticides and stressing the need to consider the contribution of TPs to pesticide soil microbial toxicity.


3,5-dichloroaniline; ammonia-oxidizing archaea; ammonia-oxidizing bacteria; iprodione; pesticide transformation products; soil microbial toxicity

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