Metribuzin impairs the unicell-colony transformation in the green alga Scenedesmus obliquus

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Active growth is a prerequisite for the formation of grazing-protective, mostly eight-celled colonies by the ubiquitous green alga Scenedesmus in response to chemical cues from zooplankton. Colonies can also be evoked by chemically quite similar manmade anionic surfactants, such as FFD-6. In this study, it was hypothesized that growth-inhibiting concentrations of the herbicide metribuzin impair the ability of Scenedesmus obliquus to form colonies in response to the surfactant morphogen FFD-6. The results confirmed that the formation of colonies in S. obliquus was hampered by metribuzin. EC50 values of metribuzin for colony inhibition (approximately 11 µg L-1) were similar to those for growth and photosynthesis inhibition (12–25 µg metribuzin L-1). In the absence of the colony-inducing surfactant FFD-6, S. obliquus populations were comprised of 92% unicells, having on average 1.2 cells per colony at all tested metribuzin concentrations (0–100 µg L-1). In contrast, in the presence of FFD-6 and at low metribuzin concentrations (0 and 5 µg L-1), S. obliquus had more than five cells per colony with a high portion of eight-celled colonies. However, increasing concentrations of metribuzin decreased the number of colonies in the FFD-6-exposed populations and caused them to remain mostly unicellular at the highest concentrations (50 and 100 µg L-1). This study revealed that metribuzin impeded growth and by doing so, also obstructed the possibility for unicellular Scenedesmus to form colonies. Consequently, an increase in mortality of Scenedesmus from grazing is expected.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-417
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • aquatic risk-assessment
  • comparative sensitivity
  • morphological defense
  • herbicide metribuzin
  • aliphatic sulfates
  • surface waters
  • phytoplankton
  • daphnia
  • growth
  • photosynthesis

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