Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beneficial organisms react differently to parasite drug

Date:
April 14, 2014
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
The substance ivermectin has been used for more than thirty years all over the world to combat parasites like roundworms, lice and mites in humans, livestock and pets. The active ingredient belongs to the chemical group of avermectins, which generally disrupt cell transport and thus attack pests. When ivermectin is excreted in the feces of treated animals, at overly high doses it also harms dung-degrading beneficial insects like dung beetles and dung flies. This impairs the functioning of the ecosystem. In extreme cases the dung is not decomposed and the pasture is destroyed.

The substance ivermectin has been used for more than thirty years all over the world to combat parasites like roundworms, lice and mites in humans, livestock and pets. The active ingredient belongs to the chemical group of avermectins, which generally disrupt cell transport and thus attack pests. When ivermectin is excreted in the feces of treated animals, at overly high doses it also harms dung-degrading beneficial insects like dung beetles and dung flies. This impairs the functioning of the ecosystem. In extreme cases the dung is not decomposed and the pasture is destroyed.

Related Articles


Sensitivity to ivermectin varies considerably

Since 2000 public regulators in many countries therefore mandate standardized safety tests for the use of avermectin derivatives. An international research team headed up by Wolf Blanckenhorn, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Zurich, has now shown that the safety tests used today are not able to sufficiently prevent environmental damage. Even closely related dung organisms react with varying degrees of sensitivity to the same veterinary pharmaceutical.

Blanckenhorn and his colleagues examined 23 species of sepsid flies that typically live in cow dung. "The individual species vary by a factor of 500 in their sensitivity to ivermectin," comments the evolutionary biologist. The standardised safety tests typically performed in toxicology in the laboratory today are based on single, arbitrarily selected dung organisms. "There is a considerable risk that the more sensitive species will continue to be harmed by ivermectin and that important ecosystem functions will suffer long-term damage as a consequence," says Blanckenhorn. To prevent this, safety tests should be extended at least to include a representative selection of all dung-degrading organisms, if not the entire community. "Clearly, these tests would massively increase the costs of the authorization process for new drugs, and investigators would have to possess specialized biological expertise," comments the biologist. For that reason a field test should be developed based on a genetic method of species identification, so-called DNA barcoding.

Evolutionary findings

With their study the authors further confirmed that in the course of evolution, as a consequence of pre-existing genetic modifications, first the sensitivity of moulting animals and later the non-sensitivity of particular species groups to avermectins has developed, long before any contact with the drug. Hence, their work also validates the still disputed molecular genetic classification of roundworms (nematodes) and arthropods as moulting animals, as only they are sensitive to avermectins.

The drug Ivermectin

Ivermectin was discovered in Japan in the late 1970s. Since then it has improved the quality of life of millions of people particularly in the tropics: ocular onchocerciasis, scabies and threadworms in the intestines can be successfully treated thanks to Ivermectin. Ivermectin is likewise used in animal husbandry across the globe.


Story Source:

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


Journal References:

  1. Nalini Puniamoorthy, Martin A. Schäfer, Jörg Römbke, Rudolf Meier, Wolf U. Blanckenhorn. Ivermectin sensitivity is an ancient trait affecting all ecdysozoa but shows phylogenetic clustering among sepsid flies. Evolutionary Applications, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/eva.12152
  2. Wolf U. Blanckenhorn, Nalini Puniamoorthy, Martin A. Schäfer, Adam Scheffczyk, Jörg Römbke. Standardized laboratory tests with 21 species of temperate and tropical sepsid flies confirm their suitability as bioassays of pharmaceutical residues (ivermectin) in cattle dung. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 2013; 89: 21 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2012.10.020

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Beneficial organisms react differently to parasite drug." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140414091915.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2014, April 14). Beneficial organisms react differently to parasite drug. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140414091915.htm
University of Zurich. "Beneficial organisms react differently to parasite drug." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140414091915.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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