Changes in juvenile coho salmon electro-olfactogram during and after short-term exposure to current-use pesticides

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2006 Oct;25(10):2809-17. doi: 10.1897/05-629r1.1.


For anadromous salmonids, olfaction is a critical sense, enabling return migration. In recent years, several pesticides have been identified that interfere with salmonid olfaction at concentrations in the microg/L range; thus, they may pose a risk to species longevity. In the present study, we investigated the acute effects of five agricultural pesticides on juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) olfaction using the electro-olfactogram (EOG), a measure of odorant-evoked field potentials. Electro-olfactogram responses to the odorant L-serine were measured during and following a 30-min exposure of the left olfactory rosette to chlorothalonil, endosulfan, glyphosate acid, iodocarb (IPBC), trifluralin, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. With the relatively insoluble pesticides endosulfan and trifluralin, decreases in EOG amplitude were only apparent at relatively high concentrations (100 and 300 microg/L, respectively) following 20 min of exposure and were absent for chlorothalonil (1 mg/L). With the water-soluble herbicide glyphosate, significant EOG reductions occurred within 10 min of exposure to 1 mg/L and more rapidly with higher concentrations. Recovery of EOG post-glyphosate exposure was concentration-dependent, and complete recovery was not observed with some concentrations at 60 min postexposure. Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid only affected EOG at high concentration (100 mg/L), where it eliminated EOG within 2 min of exposure. With IPBC, EOG was decreased at 25 min of exposure to 1 microg/L; higher concentrations caused decreases to occur more rapidly. Excluding IPBC and glyphosate, all EOG reductions occurred at concentrations greater than the current Canadian water-quality guidelines and reported 96-h lethality values. Our results show that olfactory neurons can be impaired rapidly by some current-use pesticides, even at exposures in the low-microg/L range.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Salmon / physiology*
  • Smell / drug effects*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Pesticides
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical