Environmental concentrations of agricultural-use pesticide mixtures evoke primary and secondary stress responses in rainbow trout.
ABSTRACT The present study sought to determine whether environmentally realistic mixtures of agriculturally important pesticides are stressful to fish. Juvenile rainbow trout were exposed for 96 h to concentrations of a pesticide mixture found in a waterway that is the focus of salmon restoration efforts (Nicomekl River, BC, Canada). This mixture contained organochlorine, organophosphorus, phenylurea, and triazine classes of pesticides. Fish given a realistic mixture exposure (total concentration, 1.01 µg/L) had increased plasma cortisol concentration, packed red cell volume, hematocrit (Hct), as well as decreased white cell volume, leukocrit (Lct). Similar changes in Hct and Lct were apparent after exposure to a lower concentration (0.186 µg/L). Interestingly, no changes in plasma cortisol concentration, Hct, or Lct were noted after exposure to a higher concentration (13.9 µg/L). This suggests that the exposure likely impaired the mechanisms enabling the stress response. Across all exposures, plasma glucose concentration was related to plasma cortisol concentration, not to pesticide mixture concentration. This suggests that a secondary stress response may be more related to variability in individual primary stress response than to differences in pesticide exposure concentrations. In summary, the present study indicates that salmon living in agrichemical-contaminated waterways may be experiencing stress, and this may pose a threat to their survival.