Ethanol and RoundUp Compromises Xenopus laevis Development
Teratogens such as ethanol and herbicides are factors that can cause malformations in embryos. The widespread consumption of alcohol has been the focus of many studies attempting/aiming to understand its effects on embryonic development. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been linked to cognitive deficiencies, behavioral problems, and other functional impairments. In humans, ethanol exposure causes smaller head sizes, below average heights/weights, smaller eye sizes, and narrower eye distances. This distinctive developmental phenotype and associated neurological damage has been termed fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Another teratogen, the glyphosate-based herbicides Roundup is used commercially to kill weeds. Contamination of aquatic and terrestrial amphibian habitats due to over-spraying, wind drift, and drainage are known to cause declines in amphibian populations, physical malformations, and delayed development. Model organisms such as the frog Xenopus laevis are sensitive to ethanol and herbicides during development. My experiments investigated the effects of ethanol and RoundUp on tadpole embryogenesis. Tadpoles were reared in 0 – 2.5% (v/v) of ethanol for two or six days or 0-0.004% (v/v) of RoundUp for four days. Body lengths and inter eye distances were measured using ImageJ for the ethanol and RoundUp experiments with the addition of quantifying stage of development for the RoundUp experiment. I observed a negative correlation between ethanol concentration and both body length and eye distance. Additional observations included bloated abdomens, curled body shapes, and reduced eye sizes. Taken together, these results suggest that ethanol can induce FAS-like gross morphological differences in a developing aquatic vertebrate, a potentially useful model for elucidating mechanisms by which ethanol compromises CNS development. Preliminary results for Roundup experiments suggest gross morphological and pigmentation changes.