Effects of pesticides on freshwater diatoms.
Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Reviews of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology, December 2009
Debenest T, Silvestre J, Coste M, Pinelli E, Timothée Debenest, Jérôme Silvestre, Michel Coste, Eric Pinelli
The study of pesticide effects on algae, and diatoms in particular, was focused on photosynthesis and biomass growth disturbances. Few studies have been performed to investigate the effects of these toxic agents on intracellular structures of diatom cells. Nuclear alterations and cell wall abnormalities were reported for diatoms exposed to toxic compounds. Nevertheless, the cellular mechanisms implicated in the development of such alterations and abnormalities remain unclear. Sensitivity to pesticides is known to be quite different among different diatom species. Eutrophic and small species are recognized for their tolerance to pesticides exposure. More pronounced cell defenses against oxidative stress may explain this absence of sensitivity in species of smaller physical size. Notwithstanding, on the whole, explaining the rationale behind tolerance variations among species has been quite difficult, thus far. In this context, the understanding of intracellular toxicity in diatoms and the relation between these intracellular effects and the disturbance of species composition in communities represent a key target for further research. The original community species structure determines the response of a diatom community to toxic agent exposure. Diatom communities that have species capable of switching from autotrophic to heterotrophic modes, when photosynthesis is inhibited (e.g., after pesticide exposure), can continue to grow, even in the presence of high pesticide pollution. How diatoms respond to toxic stress, and the degree to which they respond, also depends on cell and community health, on ecological interactions with other organisms, and on general environmental conditions. The general structural parameters of diatom communities (biomass, global cell density) are less sensitive to pesticide effects than are the specific structural parameters of the unicellular organisms themselves (cell density by species, species composition). For benthic species, biofilm development and grazing on this matrix as a source of food for invertebrates and fishes may also modify the response of diatom communities. Environmental parameters (light exposure, nutrient concentrations, and hydraulic conditions) affect, and often interfere with, the response of diatoms to pesticides. Therefore, the complexity of aquatic ecosystems and the complexity of pesticide to easily detect the effects of such pollutants on diatoms. Clearly more research will be required to address this problem.
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