As a result, bee larvae could have a lower probability of surviving to adulthood.
They published their report in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
The researchers, led by Reinhard Stoger, associate professor of epigenetics, studied exposure to imidacloprid under field conditions.
They found that even levels as low as 2 part per billion affected the activity of some honeybee genes.
The researchers noted that specific cells within the larvae had to work harder and increase activity of genes to break down toxins.
Genes involved in regulating energy to run cells also were affected, according to the article.
“Although larvae can still grow and develop in the presence of imidacloprid, the stability of the developmental process appears to be compromised," Stoger said in a news release. "Should the bees be exposed to additional stresses such as pests, disease and bad weather then it is likely to increase the rate of development failure.”
The report comes shortly after the European Community decided to temporarily ban three neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid.