Endosulfan sprayed on agricultural fields accumulates in temporary pools due to surface runoff or sediment transport and may result in high water concentrations in spring and summer, coinciding with breeding and crucial stages of amphibian larval development. In the present study, Bufo bufo tadpoles were exposed to three different concentrations of endosulfan (0.01, 0.05 and 0.1 mg/L) until they reached complete metamorphosis. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of endosulfan, at environmentally relevant concentrations on gill morphology and ultrastructure.
Modifications in ultrastructure and cell composition were observed at all concentrations after 96 h. The main gill effects recorded in treated animals were: mucous secretion, the appearance of tubular vesicles cells (TVC) and a degeneration phenomenon.
Comparing these results with our previous findings in which we used growth, developmental rate and behaviour as endpoints, we also demonstrated that the first effect of endosulfan on Bufo bufo was gill alteration, thus supporting the role of a morphological approach in toxicological studies.
This study provides additional information on the role of morphological studies in demonstrating the effects of exposure to environmental pollutants. In this context, the use of amphibian gills, as effective biomarkers, is a valuable approach in evaluating exposure to agrochemicals.