Pesticide tolerance in amphibians: induced tolerance in susceptible populations, constitutive tolerance in tolerant populations



Jessica Hua, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 101 Clapp Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.

Tel.: (412) 624 4656

fax: (412) 624 4759



The role of plasticity in shaping adaptations is important to understanding the expression of traits within individuals and the evolution of populations. With increasing human impacts on the environment, one challenge is to consider how plasticity shapes responses to anthropogenic stressors such as contaminants. To our knowledge, only one study (using mosquitoes) has considered the possibility of induced insecticide tolerance. Using populations of wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) located close to and far from agricultural fields, we discovered that exposing some populations of embryos and hatchlings to sublethal concentrations of the insecticide carbaryl induced higher tolerance to a subsequent lethal concentration later in life. Interestingly, the inducible populations were located >800 m from agricultural areas and were the most susceptible to the insecticide. In contrast, the noninducible populations were located close to agricultural areas and were the least susceptible. We also found that sublethal concentrations of carbaryl induced higher tadpole AChE concentrations in several cases. This is the first study to demonstrate inducible tolerance in a vertebrate species and the pattern of inducible and constitutive tolerance among populations suggests the process of genetic assimilation.