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Transcriptome profiling of the fungus Aspergillus nidulans exposed to a commercial glyphosate-based herbicide under conditions of apparent herbicide tolerance

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Robin Mesnage, Nathalie Oestreicher, Florence Poirier, Valérie Nicolas, Céline Boursier, Christian Vélot

Original languageEnglish
Article number109116
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Accepted/In press2 Jan 2020
E-pub ahead of print7 Jan 2020
PublishedMar 2020


King's Authors


Glyphosate-based herbicides, such as Roundup®, are the most widely used non-selective, broad-spectrum herbicides. The release of these compounds in large amounts into the environment is susceptible to affect soil quality and health, especially because of the non-target effects on a large range of organisms including soil microorganisms. The soil filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans, a well-characterized experimental model organism that can be used as a bio-indicator for agricultural soil health, has been previously shown to be highly affected by Roundup GT Plus (R450: 450 g/L of glyphosate) at concentrations far below recommended agricultural application rate, including at a dose that does not cause any macroscopic effect. In this study, we determined alterations in the transcriptome of A. nidulans when exposed to R450 at a dose corresponding to the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL) for macroscopic parameters. A total of 1816 distinct genes had their expression altered. The most affected biological functions were protein synthesis, amino acids and secondary metabolisms, stress response, as well as detoxification pathways through cytochromes P450, glutathione-S-transferases, and ABC transporters. These results partly explain the molecular mechanisms underlying alterations in growth parameters detected at higher concentrations for this ascomycete fungus. In conclusion, our results highlight molecular disturbances in a soil fungus under conditions of apparent tolerance to the herbicide, and thus confirm the need to question the principle of “substantial equivalence” when applied to plants made tolerant to herbicides.

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