Impact of Roundup Herbicide on Male Reproductive Health in Fish

Jenn Hoskins
18th May, 2024

Impact of Roundup Herbicide on Male Reproductive Health in Fish

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina studied the effects of Roundup WG® (RWG) on zebrafish reproduction
  • Zebrafish exposed to RWG showed significant changes in testicular structure, including damage to Sertoli cells and germ cells
  • RWG exposure led to increased reactive oxygen species and DNA damage in germ cells, indicating oxidative stress and potential fertility issues
Glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup WG® (RWG), are widely used in agriculture for crops like corn, soybean, and rice. However, their impact on non-target organisms, particularly fish, has raised environmental concerns. This study, conducted by researchers at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, aimed to investigate the reproductive toxicity of RWG on fish species Danio rerio, also known as zebrafish[1]. The researchers exposed zebrafish to three different concentrations of RWG (0.065, 0.65, and 6.5 mg active ingredient per liter) and a negative control for periods of 7 and 15 days. These concentrations reflect levels permitted in Brazilian inland waters and those found in surface waters globally. The study focused on examining the morphological and subcellular alterations in the testicular structure of the fish. Morphological analysis revealed significant changes in the testicular structure, particularly in Sertoli cell extensions and cytoplasmic bridges between germ cells. Sertoli cells are essential for supporting and nourishing developing sperm cells. The study also observed alterations in subcellular compartments, including dilated mitochondria, loss of electron density, and the presence of autophagic vesicles. Autophagy is a cellular process that degrades and recycles cellular components, and its dysregulation can lead to cell damage. Gene transcript levels related to autophagy and steroidogenic regulation were upregulated in the exposed fish. Steroidogenesis is the process by which steroids, including sex hormones, are produced. The upregulation of these genes indicates that RWG exposure disrupts normal cellular processes and hormone regulation in zebrafish. Germ cell quality was also adversely affected by RWG exposure. The study found increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and DNA fragmentation in germ cells. ROS are chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen, which can cause significant damage to cell structures, including DNA. Increased ROS production and DNA fragmentation suggest that RWG exposure leads to oxidative stress and genetic damage in germ cells, potentially affecting fertility and reproduction. These findings align with previous studies on the impact of glyphosate on aquatic organisms. For instance, a study on zebrafish ovaries exposed to glyphosate revealed subtle adverse effects, such as increased oocyte diameter and greater expression of steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1)[2]. Another study on the environmental fate of glyphosate in Argentine agricultural soils and water highlighted the herbicide's persistence and potential to reach aquatic ecosystems[3]. Furthermore, the study's findings on the reproductive toxicity of RWG in zebrafish are consistent with earlier research on the molecular mechanisms of sex determination and differentiation in fish. For example, the cloning and expression analysis of dmrt1 and sox9 genes in the lambari fish (Astyanax altiparanae) demonstrated the importance of these genes in testis formation and spermatogenesis[4]. The disruption of these processes by glyphosate exposure could have significant implications for fish reproduction and population dynamics. The results of this study raise concerns about the concentrations of RWG considered safe for human and animal use. The observed morphofunctional alterations in somatic and germ cells of zebrafish suggest that even environmentally relevant concentrations of RWG can be toxic to aquatic organisms. This underscores the need for re-evaluating the safety levels of glyphosate-based herbicides to protect non-target species and maintain ecological balance. In conclusion, the study conducted by the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina provides valuable insights into the reproductive toxicity of RWG in zebrafish, highlighting the herbicide's potential to cause significant cellular and genetic damage. These findings contribute to a growing body of evidence on the environmental impact of glyphosate and emphasize the importance of reassessing its safety for broader ecological and public health considerations.

HealthBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Assessing testicular morphofunctionality under Roundup WG® herbicide exposure in zebrafish.

Published 17th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Changes in ultrastructure and expression of steroidogenic factor-1 in ovaries of zebrafish Danio rerio exposed to glyphosate.

3) Environmental fate of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters and soil of agricultural basins.

4) Molecular cloning and expression analysis of dmrt1 and sox9 during gonad development and male reproductive cycle in the lambari fish, Astyanax altiparanae.

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