Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fertilizer chemicals linked to animal developmental woes

Date:
August 28, 2010
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Fertilizer chemicals may pose a bigger hazard to the environment -- specifically to creatures that live in water -- than originally foreseen, according to new research. Toxicologists show that water fleas take up nitrates and nitrites -- common chemicals used primarily in agriculture as fertilizers -- and convert those chemicals into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide can be toxic to many organisms.

Fertilizer chemicals may pose a bigger hazard to the environment -- specifically to creatures that live in water -- than originally foreseen, according to new research from North Carolina State University toxicologists.

In a study published in the Aug. 27 edition of PLoS ONE, the NC State researchers show that water fleas take up nitrates and nitrites -- common chemicals used primarily in agriculture as fertilizers -- and convert those chemicals into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide can be toxic to many organisms.

The study shows that water fleas introduced to fertilizer chemicals in water were plagued with developmental and reproductive problems consistent with nitric oxide toxicity, even at what would be considered low concentrations.

This raises questions about the effect these chemicals may have on other organisms, says Dr. Gerald LeBlanc, professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at NC State and the corresponding author of the paper describing the results. He adds that additional research will be needed to explore those questions.

LeBlanc says that some of the study's results were surprising.

"There's only limited evidence to suggest that animals could convert nitrates and nitrites to nitric oxide, although plants can," he says. "Since animals and plants don't have the same cellular machinery for this conversion, it appears animals use different machinery for this conversion to occur."

LeBlanc was also dismayed at seeing toxic effects at low chemical concentrations.

"Nitrite concentrations in water vary across the United States, but commonly fall within 1 to 2 milligrams per liter of water," he says. "We saw negative effects to water fleas at approximately 0.3 milligrams per liter of water."

Harmful effects of nitric oxide included developmental delay -- water flea babies were born on schedule but were underdeveloped; some lacked appendages important for swimming, for instance.

LeBlanc now plans to identify the mechanism behind nitric oxide's toxic effects; evaluate the relationship between nitrite and nitrate concentrations in the environment and developmental toxicity; and consider possible risks to humans.

"It's not possible to eliminate nitrates and nitrites from our lives -- they do wonders in agricultural crop production," LeBlanc says. "But we can take measures to ensure that the benefits of these chemicals outweigh their risks by keeping them out of surface waters."

The research was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation.

The Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology is part of the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bethany R. Hannas, Parikshit C. Das, Hong Li, Gerald A. LeBlanc. Intracellular Conversion of Environmental Nitrate and Nitrite to Nitric Oxide with Resulting Developmental Toxicity to the Crustacean Daphnia magna. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (8): e12453 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012453

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Fertilizer chemicals linked to animal developmental woes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100827192023.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2010, August 28). Fertilizer chemicals linked to animal developmental woes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100827192023.htm
North Carolina State University. "Fertilizer chemicals linked to animal developmental woes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100827192023.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins