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Frog Mutations Result From Malathion

Mutations appear during early tadpole stage
at levels as low as 1 part per million

The following research was conducted by the
Department of Zoology, University of Poona, India
and reported in the journal
Bulletin of Environmental Contamination Toxicology, 31:170-176 (1983)

 

The photographs below show the surprising results of a study exposing over 400 tadpoles to different exposure levels of malathion in water. Levels of exposure tested were from 1-20 parts per million (ppm) of malathion in water and a control group which was not exposed to any malathion contaminated water. To quote the researchers, page 173,

"The results of the present investigation clearly showed malathion is teratogenic (able to cause birth defects) to embryos in the range of 5 to 10 ppm. Beyond 10 ppm it is highly embryotoxic killing embryos within 24 to 48 hours. The abnormalities observed in the frog embryos like curvature body axis, blister formation, poor development and abnormal behavior appeared to be similar to those of fish embryos treated with an organophosphorous insecticide (Kaur and Toor 1977).... Malathion was found to be affecting the survival of the embryos and the rate of martality was dose dependant.... At a concentration of 1 ppm no mortality or gross morphological abnormality was observed. In few cases loss of balance and abnormal behavior of tadpoles was observed. These tadpoles were swimming either in a circle or showed abnormal twitching of the tail during swimming. Their swimming activity was considerably reduced as compared to controls and some of them remained at the bottom of the petri dish until disturbed."

NORMAL TADPOLE
2 DAYS
DEVELOPMENT

NORMAL TADPOLE
4 DAYS
DEVELOPMENT

  

MALATHION EXPOSED
2 DAYS
Tadpole exposed to
5 parts per million of malathion after 2 days

MALATHION EXPOSED
2 DAYS
Another tadpole also exposed to 5 parts per million of malathion after 2 days

  

MALATHION EXPOSED
4 DAYS
After 4 days of exposure to malathion at 5 parts per million. Note the "unusual" upward curvature of the tail.

MALATHION EXPOSED
4 DAYS
Also after 4 days at 5 ppm note the downward curvature of the tail. Impairments such as these, even though not causing immediate death, will result in increased vulnerability to predators.

  

SEVERE MUTATIONS
2 DAYS
Gross abnormalities are seen in this tadpole after 2 days at 10 parts per million malathion concentration in water

SEVERE MUTATIONS
2 DAYS
Again after 2 days at 10 parts per million of malthion. Note stunted growth and "no differentiation."

This article was reported in:
Bulletin of Environmental Contamination Toxicology,31, 170-176 (1983)
and is available on the second floor of the University of South Florida Medical Library

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