Traditional Toxicity Identification Evaluations (TIE) are applied to identify causal agents in complex environmental samples showing toxicity and rely upon physical or chemical manipulation of samples. However, mutations conferring toxicant resistance provide the opportunity for a novel biologically based TIE. Populations within the Hyalella azteca complex from pesticide-affected waterways were 2 and 3 orders of magnitude more resistant to the pyrethroid cyfluthrin and the organophosphate chlorpyrifos, respectively, than laboratory-cultured H. azteca widely used for toxicity testing. Three resistant populations, as well as laboratory-cultured, nonresistant H. azteca, were exposed to urban and agricultural runoff. Every sample causing death or paralysis in the nonresistant individuals had no effect on pyrethroid-resistant individuals, providing strong evidence that a pyrethroid was the responsible toxicant. The lack of toxicity to chlorpyrifos-sensitive, but pyrethroid-resistant, individuals suggested chlorpyrifos was not a likely toxicant, a hypothesis supported by chemical analysis. Since these mutations that confer resistance to pesticides are highly specific, toxicity to wild-type, but not resistant animals, provides powerful evidence of causality. It may be possible to identify strains resistant to even a wider variety of toxicants, further extending the potential use of this biologically based TIE technique beyond the pyrethroid and organophosphate-resistant strains currently available.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry