Dissipation of Glyphosate and Aminomethylphosphonic Acid in Water and Sediment of Two Canadian Prairie Wetlands

J Environ Sci Health B. 2012;47(7):631-9. doi: 10.1080/03601234.2012.668459.


Glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine] is the active ingredient of several herbicide products first registered for use in 1974 under the tradename Roundup. The use of glyphosate-based herbicides has increased dramatically over the last two decades particularly in association with the adoption of glyphosate-tolerant crops. Glyphosate has been detected in a range of surface waters but this is the first study to monitor its fate in prairie wetlands situated in agricultural fields. An ephemeral wetland (E) and a semi-permanent wetland (SP) were each divided into halves using a polyvinyl curtain. One half of each wetland was fortified with glyphosate with the added mass simulating an accidental direct overspray. Glyphosate dissipated rapidly in the water column of the two prairie wetlands studied (DT(50) values of 1.3 and 4.8 d) which may effectively reduce the impact of exposure of aquatic biota to the herbicide. Degradation of glyphosate to its major metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) and sorption of the herbicide to bottom sediment were more important pathways for the dissipation of glyphosate from the water column than movement of the herbicide with infiltrating water. Presently, we are not aware of any Canadian guidelines for glyphosate residues in sediment of aquatic ecosystems. Since a substantial portion of glyphosate entering prairie wetlands will become associated with bottom sediments, particularly in ephemeral wetlands, guidelines would need to be developed to assess the protection of organisms that spend all or part of their lifecycle in sediment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / analysis
  • Herbicides / analysis*
  • Isoxazoles
  • Organophosphonates / analysis*
  • Tetrazoles
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Wetlands


  • Herbicides
  • Isoxazoles
  • Organophosphonates
  • Tetrazoles
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • glyphosate
  • 2-amino-3-(3-hydrox-5(2-methyl-2H-tetrazol-5-yl)isoxazol-4-yl)propionic acid
  • Glycine