Effects of Glyphosate on Living Organisms

Essay by tvo89College, UndergraduateA, April 2012

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Effects of Glyphosate on Living Organisms

Its molecular formula is C3H8NO5P with a structure of:

This chemical has multiple derivates, forms, and names such as N-phosphonomethyl glycine, monoisopropylammonium salt, sesquisodium salt. The most popular marketed trade name is RoundUp introduced in 1976. However, since then a wide variety of brands arose such as Kleenup, Poledom, Rodeo, Spasor, Sting, Touchdown, and Tumbleweed.

The way glyphosate works is that it is applied onto the leaves of the targeted plant. It is then absorbed into the leaves through the stomata. It can also enter through soft tissues in the stalk because it doesn't have a thick layer of cellulose.

It is then transported throughout the plant interfering with the shikimic acid pathway. More specifically, it prevents the synthesis of important amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan by binding to and blocking 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS). This enzyme is important because it catalyzes the chemical reaction between shikimate-3-phosphate (S3P) and phosphoenolpyruvate which creates 5-enolpyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate (ESP). ESP is turned into chorismate which is essentially a precursor for the 3 already mentioned amino acids. Without these amino acids, the plant will lose its ability to synthesize vitamins, chlorophyll, and enzymes; produce essential hormones; and regulate water levels of plants. Since the chemical is not easily metabolized or eliminated from the plant, it remains in the plant until it reaches the target site (EPSPS). Disruption of the plant's crucial biochemical pathway results in the collapse of the whole...