Agricultural surface water, imidacloprid, and chlorantraniliprole result in altered gene expression and receptor activation in Pimephales promelas

Sarah A. Stinson, Simone Hasenbein, Richard E. Connon, Xin Deng, Jordan S. Alejo, Sharon P. Lawler, Erika B. Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The toxicity of single pesticides is likely underestimated when considering complex pesticide mixtures found in agricultural runoff and this is especially true for newer pesticides with little toxicity data on non-target species. The goal of our study was to compare the toxicity of two newer pesticides, imidacloprid (IMI) and chlorantraniliprole (CHL), when an invertebrate and fish were exposed to single compounds, binary mixtures or surface water collected near agricultural fields. A secondary goal was to determine whether changes in select subcellular molecular pathways correspond to the insecticides’ mechanisms of activity in aquatic organisms. We conducted acute (96 h) exposures using a dilution series of field water and environmentally relevant concentrations of single and binary mixtures of IMI and CHL. We then evaluated survival, gene expression and the activity of IMI toward the n-acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) and CHL activity toward the ryanodine receptor (RyR). Both IMI and CHL were detected at all sampling locations for May 2019 and September 2019 sampling dates and exposure to field water led to high invertebrate but not fish mortality. Fish exposed to field collected water had significant changes in the relative expression of genes involved with detoxification and neuromuscular function. Exposure of fish to single compounds or binary mixtures of IMI and CHL led to increased relative gene expression of RyR in fish. Furthermore, we found that IMI targets the nAChR in aquatic invertebrates and that CHL can cause overactivation of the RyR in invertebrates and fish. Overall, our finding suggests that IMI and CHL may impact neuromuscular health in fish. Expanding monitoring efforts to include sublethal and molecular assays would allow the detection of subcellular level effects due to complex mixtures present in surface water near agricultural areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150920
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Anthranilic diamide
  • Mixture toxicity
  • N-acetylcholine receptor
  • Neonicotinoid
  • Ryanodine receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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