• Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors;
  • Toxic effects;
  • Anurans;
  • Fish;
  • Pesticides


Organophosphate pesticides (OPs), a class of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, are used widely in agriculture to reduce insect populations. Because of the conservation of acetylcholinesterase between invertebrates and vertebrates, OPs also can adversely affect nontarget species, such as aquatic and terrestrial animals. This study used uniform conditions to analyze the morphological and physiological effects caused by developmental exposure to 3 commonly used OPs—chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, and diazinon—on 2 aquatic vertebrate species, Danio rerio (zebrafish) and Xenopus laevis. Survival, locomotor activity, heart rate, and gross anatomical abnormalities, including kyphosis and edema, were observed over a 5-d period in response to OP concentrations ranging from 0 µM to 1000 µM. Both zebrafish and Xenopus showed decreased survival for all 3 OPs at higher concentrations. However, Xenopus showed higher mortality than zebrafish at lower chlorpyrifos and dichlorvos concentrations. Both models showed a dose-dependent decrease in heart rate and free-swimming larval activity in response to chlorpyrifos and dichlorvos. In addition, kyphosis and decreased spine length were prominent in Xenopus in response to 10 µM of chlorpyrifos and 0.1 µM dichlorvos. Although diazinon induced no effects on skeletal and cardiac motor activity in either species, it did induce cardiac edemas in zebrafish. Differences in the biological actions of OPs and their differential effects in these 2 vertebrate models demonstrate the importance of using common protocols and multiple models to evaluate the ecotoxicology of OPs. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:1337–1345. © 2014 SETAC