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Comparing effects of low levels of herbicides on greenhouse- and field-grown potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.), soybeans (Glycine max L.), and peas (Pisum sativum L.)



Although laboratory toxicology tests are generally easy to perform, cost effective, and readily interpreted, they have been questioned for their environmental relevance. In contrast, field tests are considered realistic while producing results that are difficult to interpret and expensive to obtain. Toxicology tests were conducted on potatoes, peas, and soybeans grown in a native soil in pots in the greenhouse and were compared to plants grown outside under natural environmental conditions to determine toxicological differences between environments, whether different plant developmental stages were more sensitive to herbicides, and whether these species were good candidates for plant reproductive tests. The reproductive and vegetative endpoints of the greenhouse plants and field-grown plants were also compared. The herbicides bromoxynil, glyphosate, MCPA ([4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy] acetic acid), and sulfometuron-methyl were applied at below field application rates to potato plants at two developmental stages. Peas and soybeans were exposed to sulfometuron-methyl at similar rates at three developmental stages. The effective herbicide concentrations producing a 25% reduction in a given measure differed between experimental conditions but were generally within a single order of magnitude within a species, even though there were differences in plant morphology. This study demonstrated that potatoes, peas, and soybeans grown in pots in a greenhouse produce phytotoxicity results similar to those grown outside in pots; that reproductive endpoints in many cases were more sensitive than vegetative ones; and that potato and pea plants are reasonable candidates for asexual and sexual reproductive phytotoxicity tests, respectively. Plants grown in pots in a greenhouse and outside varied little in toxicity. However, extrapolating those toxicity results to native plant communities in the field is basically unknown and in need of research. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:455–468. © 2010 SETAC