Roundup negatively impacts the behavior and nerve function of the Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)

Megha Kanabar, Samuel Bauer, Zimuzo M. Ezedum, Ian P. Dwyer, William S. Moore, Gabriella Rodriguez, Aditya Mall, Anne T. Littleton, Michael Yudell, Jenil Kanabar, Wade J. Tucker, Emily R. Daniels, Mohima Iqbal, Hira Khan, Ashra Mirza, Joshua C. Yu, Marvin O’Neal, Nils Volkenborn, Sharon T. Pochron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup formulations. Glyphosate-based herbicides are used globally in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and in urban settings. Glyphosate can persist for years in our soil, potentially impacting the soil-dwelling arthropods that are primary drivers of a suite of ecosystem services. Furthermore, although glyphosate is not generally classified as neurotoxic to insects, evidence suggests that it may cause nerve damage in other organisms. In a series of experiments, we used food to deliver environmentally realistic amounts of Roundup ready-to-use III, a common 2% glyphosate-based herbicide formulation that lists isopropylamine salt as its active ingredient, to Madagascar hissing cockroaches. We then assessed the impact of contamination on body mass, nerve health, and behavior. Contaminated food contained both 30.6 mg glyphosate and so-called inert ingredients. Food was refreshed weekly for 26–60 days, depending on the experiment. We found that consumption of contaminated food did not impact adult and juvenile survivorship or body weight. However, consumption of contaminated food decreased ventral nerve cord action-potential velocity by 32%, caused a 29% increase in respiration rate, and caused a 74.4% decrease in time spent on a motorized exercise wheel. Such changes in behavior may make cockroaches less capable of fulfilling their ecological service, such as pollinating or decomposing litter. Furthermore, their lack of coordination may make them more susceptible to predation, putting their population at risk. Given the decline of terrestrial insect abundance, understanding common risks to terrestrial insect populations has never been more critical. Results from our experiments add to the growing body of literature suggesting that this popular herbicide can act as a neurotoxin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32933-32944
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Action potential
  • Glyphosate
  • Locomotion
  • Neurotoxin
  • Respiration
  • Soil-dwelling invertebrate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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