Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Glyphosate Compounds to Glochidia and Juveniles of Lampsilis Siliquoidea (Unionidae)


Native freshwater mussels (family Unionidae) are among the most imperiled faunal groups in the world. Factors contributing to the decline of mussel populations likely include pesticides and other aquatic contaminants; however, there is a paucity of data regarding the toxicity of even the most globally distributed pesticides, including glyphosate, to mussels. Therefore, the toxicity of several forms of glyphosate, its formulations, and a surfactant (MON 0818) used in several glyphosate formulations was determined for early life stages of Lampsilis siliquoidea, a native freshwater mussel. Acute and chronic toxicity tests were performed with a newly established American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard guide for conducting toxicity tests with freshwater mussels. Roundup®, its active ingredient, the technical‐grade isopropylamine (IPA) salt of glyphosate, IPA alone, and MON 0818 (the surfactant in Roundup formulations) were each acutely toxic to L. siliquoidea glochidia. MON 0818 was most toxic of the compounds tested and the 48‐h median effective concentration (0.5 mg/L) for L. siliquoidea glochidia is the lowest reported for any aquatic organism tested to date. Juvenile L. siliquoidea were also acutely sensitive to MON 0818, Roundup, glyphosate IPA salt, and IPA alone. Technical‐grade glyphosate and Aqua Star® were not acutely toxic to glochidia or juveniles. Ranking of relative chronic toxicity of the glyphosate‐related compounds to juvenile mussels was similar to the ranking of relative acute toxicity to juveniles. Growth data from chronic tests was largely inconclusive. In summary, these results indicate that L. siliquoidea, a representative of the nearly 300 freshwater mussel taxa in North America, is among the most sensitive aquatic organisms tested to date with glyphosate‐based chemicals and the surfactant MON 0818.



Document Type




Publication Date


Journal Title

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: An International Journal