How Metaldehyde Affects Common Garden Snails

Jenn Hoskins
14th June, 2024

How Metaldehyde Affects Common Garden Snails

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study by Sichuan Agricultural University investigated the effects of metaldehyde on golden apple snails in China
  • Metaldehyde causes severe damage to the snails' gills, liver, pancreas, and kidneys, reducing their oxygen consumption and ammonia excretion rates
  • Proteome analysis identified four key proteins affected by metaldehyde: ALPK1, CUBN, GAT2, and AChE
  • Interfering with ALPK1 and CUBN genes significantly increased snail mortality, suggesting these proteins as potential targets for pest control
Golden apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata) are a significant invasive species in China, impacting food production and posing risks to human health. A recent study by Sichuan Agricultural University has investigated the effects of metaldehyde, a widely used molluscicide, on these snails[1]. This research aimed to understand the toxicity mechanisms of metaldehyde and identify potential molecular targets for more effective pest control. Metaldehyde is known for its strong molluscicidal activity with relatively low toxicity to humans. The study employed various methods, including virulence determination, tissue section analysis, iTRAQ (Isobaric Tags for Relative and Absolute Quantitation) proteome analysis, and RNA interference (RNAi). The results revealed that metaldehyde causes substantial damage to the gills, liver, pancreas, and kidneys of golden apple snails. Additionally, it reduces their oxygen consumption and ammonia excretion rates, which are critical for their survival, and induces neurological disorders. The proteome analysis of the gill region using iTRAQ technology identified 360 differential proteins. Among these, four target proteins were highlighted: alpha-protein kinase 1 (ALPK1), cubilin (CUBN), sodium- and chloride-dependent GABA transporter 2 (GAT2), and acetylcholinesterase (AChE). RNAi experiments showed that interfering with the ALPK1 and CUBN genes significantly increased the mortality rate of the snails. However, targeting GAT2 and AChE did not result in a notable change in mortality rates. Histopathological observations supported these findings, showing that interference with ALPK1 and CUBN genes reduced the rate of cilia shedding in the gills. This suggests that these proteins play a crucial role in the snail's response to metaldehyde, potentially making them effective targets for future pest control strategies. Previous studies have provided a foundation for understanding the biological and physiological characteristics of Pomacea canaliculata. For instance, research has shown that these snails possess both acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) enzymes, which are distributed across various tissues and could serve as biomarkers for environmental monitoring[2]. The current study expands on this by identifying AChE as one of the proteins affected by metaldehyde, although it did not significantly impact snail mortality when targeted alone. Another study highlighted the morphological and functional peculiarities of the gill in P. canaliculata, emphasizing its role in ionic and osmotic regulation rather than just respiration[3]. The new findings align with this, showing that metaldehyde-induced damage to the gills impairs these critical functions, leading to reduced oxygen consumption and ammonia excretion rates. Additionally, the impact of environmental pollutants on P. canaliculata has been well-documented. For example, exposure to Cypermethrin, an insecticide, caused significant oxidative damage and histopathological changes in the snails' gills and digestive glands[4]. Similarly, the current study observed that metaldehyde causes severe damage to multiple organs, further validating the use of P. canaliculata as a bioindicator for environmental pollution. In conclusion, the study by Sichuan Agricultural University provides valuable insights into the toxic effects of metaldehyde on golden apple snails and identifies potential molecular targets for more effective pest control. By building on previous research, this study enhances our understanding of the physiological and biochemical responses of P. canaliculata to environmental stressors, paving the way for improved management strategies to mitigate their impact on agriculture and human health.

EnvironmentBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Research on the Mechanism of Metaldehyde on Pomacea canaliculata.

Published 13th June, 2024

Related Studies

2) Characterizations of cholinesterases in golden apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata).

3) Functional and evolutionary perspectives on gill structures of an obligate air-breathing, aquatic snail.

4) Differential response between histological and biochemical biomarkers in the apple snail Pomacea canaliculata (Gasteropoda: Amullariidae) exposed to cypermethrin.

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