Fertilizer chemicals linked to animal developmental woes

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-08/ncsu-fcl082710.php
The Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology is part of the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Note to editors: An abstract of the paper follows.
"Intracellular Conversion of Environmental Nitrate and Nitrite to Nitric Oxide With Resulting Developmental Toxicity"
Authors: Bethany R. Hannas, Parikshit C. Das, Hong Li and Gerald A. LeBlanc, North Carolina State University Published: Aug. 27, 2010, in PLoS One
Abstract: Nitrate and nitrite (jointly referred to herein as NOx) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants to which aquatic organisms are at particularly high risk of exposure. We tested the hypothesis that NOx undergo intracellular conversion to the potent signaling molecule nitric oxide resulting in the disruption of endocrine-regulated processes. These experiments were performed with insect cells (Drosophila S2) and whole organisms Daphnia magna. We first evaluated the ability of cells to convert nitrate (NO3) and nitrite (NO2) to nitric oxide using amperometric real-time nitric oxide detection. Both NO3 and NO2 were converted to nitric oxide in a substrate concentration-dependent manner. Further, nitric oxide trapping and fluorescent visualization studies revealed that perinatal daphnids readily convert NO2 to nitric oxide. Next, daphnids were continuously exposed to concentrations of the nitric oxide-donor sodium bitroprusside (positive control) and to concentrations of NO3 and NO2. All three compounds interfered with normal embryo development and reduced daphnid fecundity. Developmental abnormalities were characteristic of those elicited by compounds that interfere with ecdysteriod signaling. However, no compelling evidence was generated to indicate that nitric oxide reduced ecdysteriod titers. Results demonstrate that nitrite elicits developmental and reproductive toxicity at environmentally relevant concentrations due likely to its intracellular conversion to nitric oxide.
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also noted in the article:
"It's not possible to eliminate nitrates and nitrites from our lives they do wonders in agricultural crop production," LeBlanc says. "But we can take measures to ensure that the benefits of these chemicals outweigh their risks by keeping them out of surface waters."
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