The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Theresia Widhalm. Foto.

Theresia Krausl

Doctoral student

Theresia Widhalm. Foto.

Single and Combined Effects of Pesticide Seed Dressings and Herbicides on Earthworms, Soil Microorganisms, and Litter Decomposition


  • Willem Van Hoesel
  • Alexandra Tiefenbacher
  • Nina König
  • Verena M. Dorn
  • Julia F. Hagenguth
  • Urša Prah
  • Theresia Widhalm
  • Viktoria Wiklicky
  • Robert Koller
  • Michael Bonkowski
  • Jan Lagerlöf
  • Andreas Ratzenböck
  • Johann G. Zaller

Summary, in English

Seed dressing, i.e., the treatment of crop seeds with insecticides and/or fungicides, aiming to protect seeds from pests and diseases, is widely used in conventional agriculture. During the growing season, those crop fields often receive additional broadband herbicide applications. However, despite this broad utilization, very little is known on potential side effects or interactions between these different pesticide classes on soil organisms. In a greenhouse pot experiment, we studied single and interactive effects of seed dressing of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L. var. Capo) with neonicotinoid insecticides and/or strobilurin and triazolinthione fungicides and an additional one-time application of a glyphosate-based herbicide on the activity of earthworms, soil microorganisms, litter decomposition, and crop growth. To further address food-web interactions, earthworms were introduced to half of the experimental units as an additional experimental factor. Seed dressings significantly reduced the surface activity of earthworms with no difference whether insecticides or fungicides were used. Moreover, seed dressing effects on earthworm activity were intensified by herbicides (significant herbicide × seed dressing interaction). Neither seed dressings nor herbicide application affected litter decomposition, soil basal respiration, microbial biomass, or specific respiration. Seed dressing did also not affect wheat growth. We conclude that interactive effects on soil biota and processes of different pesticide classes should receive more attention in ecotoxicological research.

Publishing year





Frontiers in Plant Science



Document type

Journal article


Frontiers Media S. A.


  • agrochemicals
  • agroecology
  • neonicotinoids
  • non-target effects
  • pesticide
  • seed coatings
  • soil organisms
  • glyphosate-herbicide




  • ISSN: 1664-462X