The Effect of Glyphosate on Human Sperm Motility and Sperm DNA Fragmentation

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 May 30;15(6):1117. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15061117.


Glyphosate is the active ingredient of Roundup®, which is one of the most popular herbicides worldwide. Although many studies have focused on the reproductive toxicity of glyphosate or glyphosate-based herbicides, the majority of them have concluded that the effect of the specific herbicide is negligible, while only a few studies indicate the male reproductive toxicity of glyphosate alone. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of 0.36 mg/L glyphosate on sperm motility and sperm DNA fragmentation (SDF). Thirty healthy men volunteered to undergo semen analysis for the purpose of the study. Sperm motility was calculated according to WHO 2010 guidelines at collection time (zero time) and 1 h post-treatment with glyphosate. Sperm DNA fragmentation was evaluated with Halosperm® G2 kit for both the control and glyphosate-treated sperm samples. Sperm progressive motility of glyphosate-treated samples was significantly reduced after 1 h post-treatment in comparison to the respective controls, in contrast to the SDF of glyphosate-treated samples, which was comparable to the respective controls. Conclusively, under these in vitro conditions, at high concentrations that greatly exceed environmental exposures, glyphosate exerts toxic effects on sperm progressive motility but not on sperm DNA integrity, meaning that the toxic effect is limited only to motility, at least in the first hour.

Keywords: glyphosate; sperm DNA fragmentation; sperm motility.

MeSH terms

  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects*
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / toxicity
  • Glyphosate
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Herbicides / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Semen Analysis
  • Sperm Motility / drug effects*
  • Sperm Motility / genetics
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / physiology


  • Herbicides
  • Glycine