Freshwater ecosystems at risk due to glyphosate use

Photo: One of the few species that was found to be resistant to severe glyphosate contamination was Scapholeberis mucronata, a freshwater zooplankter commonly found in Québec and elsewhere in North America. Credit: Marie-Pier Hébert

A series of recent research papers from a McGill-led team has found that the herbicide glyphosate—commonly sold under the label Roundup—can alter the structure of natural freshwater bacterial and zooplankton communities. Notably, the researchers found that for zooplankton, aquatic concentrations of 0.1 mg/L glyphosate were sufficient to cause diversity loss.

"Because plankton form the foundation of the food chain in freshwater ecosystems , it is very important to understand how plankton communities respond to widely used pesticides," said Jesse Shapiro, an Associate Professor in McGill’s Department of Microbiology & Immunology. "Our research shows that the structure of these communities can be impaired under currently acceptable North American water quality guidelines."

Using freshwater ponds to test toxicity of agrochemicals

Toxicity studies often rely on laboratory tests with a single species, ignoring the possible influence of many environmental factors and species interactions on community responses to pollutants. In these studies, the researchers used a large-scale array of 1,000-L experimental ponds filled with lake water to gain a […]