An aquatic 24-hour lethality test using Caenorhabditis elegans was used to assess toxicity of glucosinolates and their enzymatic breakdown products. In the absence of the enzyme thioglucosidase (myrosinase), allyl glucosinolate (sinigrin) was found to be nontoxic at all concentrations tested, while a freeze-dried, dialyzed water extract of Crambe abyssinica containing 26% 2-hydroxyl 3-butenyl glucosinolate (epi-progoitrin) had a 50% lethal concentration (LC) of 18.5 g/liter. Addition of the enzyme increased the toxicity (LC value) of sinigrin to 0.5 g/liter, but the enzyme had no effect on the toxicity of the C. abyssinica extract. Allyl isothiocyanate and allyl cyanide, two possible breakdown products of sinigrin, had an LC value of 0.04 g/liter and approximately 3 g/liter, respectively. Liquid chromatographic studies showed that a portion of the sinigrin decomposed into allyl isothiocyanate. The results indicated that allyl isothiocyanate is nearly three orders of magnitude more toxic to C. elegans than the corresponding glncosinolate, suggesting isothiocyanate formation would improve nematode control from application of glucosinolates.
Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; Crambe abyssinica; enzyme; epi-progoitrin; glucosinolate; myrosinase; physiology; sinigrin; thioglucosidase.