Combined neonicotinoid pesticide and parasite stress alter honeybee queens' physiology and survival.
Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 31 ;6:31430. Epub 2016 Aug 31. PMID: 27578396
Honeybee colony survival strongly relies on the queen to overcome worker losses exposed to combined stressors like pesticides and parasites. Queen's capacity to withstand these stressors is however very little known. The effects of the common neonicotinoid pesticide imidacloprid in a chronic and sublethal exposure together with the wide distributed parasite Nosema ceranae have therefore been investigated on queen's physiology and survivorship in laboratory and field conditions. Early physiological changes were observed on queens, particularly the increase of enzyme activities (catalase [CAT] and glutathione-S-transferase [GST] in the heads) related to protective responses to xenobiotics and oxidative stress against pesticide and parasite alone or combined. Stressors also alter the activity of two other enzymes (carboxylesterase alpha [CaEα] and carboxylesterase para [CaE p] in the midguts) involved in metabolic and detoxification functions. Furthermore, single and combined effects of pesticide and parasite decrease survivorship of queens introduced into mating hives for three months. Because colony demographic regulation relies onqueen's fertility, the compromise of its physiology and life can seriously menace colony survival under pressure of combined stressors.