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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2001 Sep;76(2):183-91.

Contrasting effects of imidacloprid on habituation in 7- and 8-day-old honeybees (Apis mellifera).

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Laboratoire de Toxicologie Environnementale, Unité de Zoologie, INRA, Site Agroparc, Avignon Cedex 9, 84914, France.


We examined the effects of sublethal doses (0.1, 1, and 10 ng per animal) of a new neonicotinoid insecticide, Imidacloprid, on habituation of the proboscis extension reflex (PER) in honeybees (Apis mellifera) reared under laboratory conditions. In untreated honeybees, the habituation of the proboscis extension reflex is age-dependent and there is a significant increase in the number of trials required for habituation in older bees (8-10 days old) as compared to very young bees (4-7 days old). Imidacloprid alters the number of trials needed to habituate the honeybee response to multiple sucrose stimulation. In 7-day-old bees, treatment with Imidacloprid leads to an increase in the number of trials necessary to abolish the response, whereas in 8-day-old bees, it leads to a reduction in the number of trials for habituation (15 min and 1 h after treatment), and to an increase 4 h after treatment. The temporal effects of Imidacloprid in both 7- and 8-day-old bees suggest that 4h after treatment the observed effects are due to a metabolite of Imidacloprid, rather than to Imidacloprid itself. Our results suggest the existence of two distinct subtypes of nicotinic receptors in the honeybee that have different affinities to Imidacloprid and are differentially expressed in 7- and 8-day-old individuals.

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