Development of scleral ossicles in Podocnemis expansa (Testudines: Podocnemididae) embryos exposed to atrazine
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Understanding the effects of atrazine exposure on embryo development in oviparous animals may provide important data regarding the impacts of agrochemical use on wildlife and the ecosystem. This study set out to determine the effects of embryonic atrazine exposure on the development of osseous and cartilaginous components of scleral ossicles in Podocnemis expansa. Eggs were collected at the Environmental Protection Area Meandros do Rio Araguaia, Brazil, and artificially incubated in sand treated with solutions containing 2, 20 or 200 µg/L of atrazine. Sixty embryos were collected per treatment throughout the incubation period. Embryos were diaphanized with potassium hydroxide (KOH) and stained with Alizarin Red S and Alcian blue (bone and cartilage tissue respectively). Scleral ossicles were then counted and examined for skeletal abnormalities at different stages of embryonic development. Scleral ossicle counts were significantly reduced in P. expansa embryos treated with 200 μg/L atrazine solution. Rudimentary ossicles and gaps were also noted in embryos exposed to atrazine concentrations of 2 μg/L or 200 μg/L. Findings of this study emphasize the relevance of ecotoxicological investigations in determining the impacts of agrochemicals on native fauna.