Biodegradation of Fipronil: Transformation Products, Microbial Characterisation and Toxicity Assessment

Rafaela Tomazini, Flavia T. Saia*, Bas van der Zaan, Guilherme M. Grosseli, Pedro S. Fadini, Raiane G.M. de Oliveira, Gustavo B. Gregoracci, Antonio Mozetto, Barbara M.A. van Vugt-Lussenburg, Abraham Brouwer, Alette A.M. Langenhoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Fipronil is a highly active, broad spectrum insecticide with increasing and wide use. The degradation of fipronil was studied in Brazilian soil under oxic and anoxic conditions. Under oxic conditions, the half-life of fipronil was 16.9 days, with fipronil sulfone as the main metabolite, and no further degradation during 30 days of incubation. This degradation was accompanied by an increase of bacterial and archaeal ammonia oxidizers, as well as denitrifiers, and microorganisms related to Sphingomonas. Under anoxic conditions, a half-life of 15.7 days for fipronil was obtained, with fipronil sulphide as the primary metabolite, and fipronil sulfone at lower concentrations, with no further degradation of these metabolites during 90 days of incubation. In these conditions, complete degradation of fipronil was accompanied by an increase of denitrifiers, iron-reducers and ammonia oxidizers and selection of microorganisms that are related to uncultured Clostridiales (family VIII). Sulphate reducers and methanogens and most of the microbial community were not affected by fipronil and its metabolites. Toxicity evaluation, using in vitro effect-based CALUX assays confirmed that the metabolites have a similar toxic potency as compared to the parent compound fipronil. Therefore, the potential (eco)toxicity of fipronil does not seem to decrease upon microbial degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2021


  • CALUX assay
  • Fipronil
  • Oxic and anoxic biodegradation
  • Soil
  • Sphingomonas and Clostridiales

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