I don't want to leapfrog

Commonly used herbicide is changing gender of US frogs

Published: Saturday 30 November 2002

-- a widely used herbicide is making male frogs grow female gonads in the us midwest, according to a recent field study conducted by researchers from the University of California, usa. The finding could fuel the controversy over whether or not the chemical is one of the many possible reasons for the shrinking amphibian populations worldwide. Atrazine is the most commonly used herbicide in the us and its traces are found in high concentrations even in non-farming areas.

During the study, the researchers took water samples at various locations and found that only one site had atrazine levels below their detection limit. "This site was the only locality where testicular oocytes were not observed in the local population of leopard frogs," they wrote. Oocytes are egg mother cells. "The hermaphroditism was not evident in the absence of atrazine exposure. Thus we conclude that atrazine is responsible for the adverse effects in wild frog populations even though other contaminants could produce similar effects," said the researchers. As the herbicide's effects are not restricted to a single species, the researchers assert that it must be threatening the amphibian population in general.

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