Inducible Tolerance to Agrochemicals Was Paved by Evolutionary Responses to Predators

Devin K. Jones, William D. Hintz, Matthew S. Schuler, Erika K. Yates, Brian M. Mattes, Rick A. Relyea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Recent research has reported increased tolerance to agrochemicals in target and nontarget organisms following acute physiological changes induced through phenotypic plasticity. Moreover, the most inducible populations are those from more pristine locations, far from agrochemical use. We asked why do populations with no known history of pesticide exposure have the ability to induce adaptive responses to novel agrochemicals? We hypothesized that increased pesticide tolerance results from a generalized stressor response in organisms, and would be induced following sublethal exposure to natural and anthropogenic stressors. We exposed larval wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) to one of seven natural or anthropogenic stressors (predator cue (Anax spp.), 0.5 or 1.0 mg carbaryl/L, road salt (200 or 1000 mg Cl-/L), ethanol-vehicle control, or no-stressor control) and subsequently tested their tolerance to a lethal carbaryl concentration using time-to-death assays. We observed induced carbaryl tolerance in tadpoles exposed to 0.5 mg/L carbaryl and also in tadpoles exposed to predator cues. Our results suggest that the ability to induce pesticide tolerance likely arose through evolved antipredator responses. Given that antipredator responses are widespread among species, many animals might possess inducible pesticide tolerance, buffering them from agrochemical exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13913-13919
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2017


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