The toxicity of carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate and profenofos to the freshwater shrimp, Paratya australiensis was assessed by measuring acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition after 96. h exposures. Shrimp exposed to these pesticides exhibited significant AChE inhibition, with mortality in shrimp corresponding to 70-90% AChE inhibition. The sensitivity of P. australiensis to the four pesticides based on AChE inhibition can be given as chlorpyrifos>profenofos>carbaryl>dimethoate. Recovery of AChE activity was followed in shrimp after 96. h exposures to carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and dimethoate. Recovery after exposure to the carbamate pesticide carbaryl was more rapid than for the two organophosphorus pesticides, chlorpyrifos and dimethoate. The slow recovery of depressed AChE activity may mean that affected organisms in the natural system are unable to sustain physical activities such as searching for food or eluding predators. To investigate the ecological significance of AChE inhibition, chemotaxis behaviour was assessed in shrimp exposed to profenofos for 24. h. Abnormal chemotaxis behaviour in the exposed shrimp was observed at concentrations representing 30-50% AChE inhibition. A clear relationship existed between the depression of AChE activity and observed chemotaxis responses, such as approaching and grasping the chemoattractant source. These results suggest that in vivo toxicity tests based on this specific biomarker are sensitive and present advantages over conventional acute tests based on mortality. Behavioural studies of test organisms conducted in conjunction with measurement of AChE inhibition will provide data to clarify the toxic effects caused by sublethal chemical concentrations of anti-cholinesterase compounds.
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibition
- Chemotaxis behaviour