Background: Enantioselectivity has been well recognized in the environmental
fate and effects of chiral pesticides. Enantiospecific action of the optical enantiomers
on the biological molecules establishes the mechanistic basis for the enantioselective
toxicity of chiral pesticides to both target and non-target organisms.
Methods: We undertook a structured search of bibliographic databases for research literature
concerning the enantioselective effects of chiral pesticides, including insecticides,
herbicides and fungicides, on biomolecules in various species by using some key
words. The results of the relevant literatures were reviewed in the text and summarized
Results: Pesticides generally exert their activity on the target organisms via disrupting the primary target
biomolecules. In non-target species, effects of pesticides on the secondary targets distinguished from the
primary ones make great contribution to their toxicity. Recent investigations have provided convincing evidence
of enantioselective toxicity of chiral pesticides to both target and non-target species which is recognized
to result from their enantiospecific action on the primary or secondary targets in organisms.
Conclusion: This review confirms that chiral pesticides have enantiospecific effects on both primary and
secondary target biomolecules in organisms. Future studies regarding toxicological effects of chiral pesticides
should focus on the relationship between the enantiomeric difference in the compound-biomolecules
interaction and the enantioselectivity in their toxicity.