Indexed on: 17 Oct '03Published on: 17 Oct '03Published in: Pest Management Science
Mineralisation of the phenylurea herbicide isoproturon (3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea) and two of its known metabolites, 3-(4-isopropylphenyl)-1-methylurea (monodesmethyl-isoproturon) and 4-isopropylaniline, was studied in Danish agricultural soils with or without previous exposure to isoproturon. A potential for rapid mineralisation of isoproturon and the two metabolites was present in soils sampled from three plots within an agricultural field previously treated regularly with the herbicide, with 34-45%, 51-58% and 33-36% of the added [phenyl-U-14C]isoproturon, [phenyl-U-14C]monodesmethyl-isoproturon and [phenyl-U-14C]4-isopropylaniline metabolised to [14C]carbon dioxide within 30 days at 20 degrees C. In contrast, such extensive mineralisation of these three compounds was not observed within this period in soils sampled from two other agricultural fields without previous treatment with isoproturon. The mineralisation patterns indicated growth-linked metabolism of the three compounds in the previously exposed soils, and doubling times for [14C]carbon dioxide production ranged from 1.6 to 3.2, 1.0 to 2.1 and 1.3 to 1.7 days for isoproturon, monodesmethyl-isoproturon and 4-isopropylaniline, respectively. The ability to mineralise [phenyl-U-14C]isoproturon to [14C]carbon dioxide was successfully sub-cultured to a fresh mineral medium which provided isoproturon as sole source of carbon and nitrogen. One of the soils sampled from an agricultural field not previously treated with isoproturon showed accelerated mineralisation of [phenyl-U-14C]4-isopropylaniline toward the end of the experiment, with a doubling time for [14C]carbon dioxide production of 7.4days. This study indicates that the occurrence of rapid mineralisation of the phenyl ring of isoproturon to carbon dioxide is related to previous exposure to the herbicide, which suggests that microbial adaptation upon repeated isoproturon use may occur within agricultural fields.