Interactions between atrazine and phosphorus in aquatic systems: effects on phytoplankton and periphyton.Chemosphere. 2013 Jan; 90(3):1069-76.C
It has been proposed that the herbicide atrazine may increase rates of parasitic trematode infection in amphibians. This effect may occur indirectly as a result of increased biomass of periphyton and augmented populations of aquatic snails, which are the trematode's primary larval host. Evidence has also shown that nutrients alone may induce the same indirect responses. Since both atrazine and nutrients commonly enter surface waters from agricultural run-off, their spatial and temporal co-occurrence are highly probable. In light of recent wide-spread declines in amphibian populations, a better understanding of the role of atrazine in the proposed ecological mechanism is necessary. A microcosm study was conducted to quantify biomass of phytoplankton and periphyton over a range of atrazine and phosphorus concentrations (from 0 to 200 μg L(-1) each) using a central composite rotatable design. Over 10 weeks, biomass and water chemistry were monitored using standard methods. Regression and canonical analyses of the response surfaces for each parameter were conducted. We found significant effects of atrazine and phosphorus on dissolved oxygen, pH, and conductivity throughout the study. Additions of phosphorus mitigated the apparent inhibition of these photosynthetic indicators caused by atrazine. Despite these changes, no consistent treatment-related differences in algal biomass were observed. These results indicate that the indirect impacts of atrazine on total growth of periphyton and likely, subsequent effects on aquatic snails, are not expected to be ecologically significant at the concentrations of atrazine tested (up to 200 μg L(-1)) and over a range of nutrient conditions commonly occurring in agroecosystems.