Effect of low doses of herbicide paraquat on antioxidant defense in Drosophila

Arch Insect Biochem Physiol. 2015 Apr;88(4):235-48. doi: 10.1002/arch.21222. Epub 2015 Jan 3.


Despite a high toxicity, paraquat is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. Our study evaluated the effect of paraquat exposure on antioxidant response and locomotion activity in Drosophila melanogaster. We examined the enzymatic activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase, and the transcript levels of both enzymes. Flies were exposed to a wide range of paraquat concentrations (0.25 μM to 25 mM) for 12 h. SOD, at both transcript and enzymatic levels, revealed a biphasic dose-response curve with the peak at 2.5 μM paraquat. A similar dose-response curve was observed at transcript levels of catalase. Males revealed higher susceptibility to paraquat exposure, displaying higher lethality, increased levels of SOD activity, and increased peroxide levels than in females. We found that the exposure of females to 2.5 μM paraquat leads to an increase in locomotion activity. Because susceptibility to paraquat was enhanced by mating, the study supports the hypothesis of elevation of stress sensitivity as a physiological cost of reproduction.

Keywords: Drosophila; catalase; mating; oxidative stress; paraquat; superoxide dismutase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Catalase / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism
  • Female
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Paraquat / toxicity*
  • Peroxides / metabolism
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Sex Factors
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Herbicides
  • Peroxides
  • Catalase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Paraquat