British study links insecticide to changes in honeybee genes

07/03/2013 06:28:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

honeybeeVicky BoydResearchers at the University of Nottingham in England have shown that exposure to even minute amounts of an insecticide can cause the genes in honeybees to change.

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.

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California  |  July, 11, 2013 at 01:08 PM

I've noticed quite a number of honeybee's not taking notice of pollen when next to a plant humming with other bee's. They also have shorter wings, crumpled up wings, and have a docile demeanor. They seem rather defective.

Vicky Boyd, Editor    
California  |  July, 11, 2013 at 01:19 PM

They may have deformed wing virus, a disease carried by the parasitic varroa mite. Read more about the virus and mite at Oregon State University,

Physics Police    
July, 11, 2013 at 06:24 PM

The study has serious flaws. 1. Between-hive systemics were not reported. Systemic error might render the difference between exposed and control hives statistically insignificant. 2. Dose-response was not measured. This flaw in experimental setup weakens the evidence for a causal relationship between the imidacloprid and the gene expression effect.

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