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Pest Manag Sci. 2004 Mar;60(3):291-6.

Metabolism of imidacloprid in Apis mellifera.

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INRA, UMR 406 INRA-UAPV Ecologie des Invertébrés, Site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France.


Biotransformation of imidacloprid and the appearance of olefin and 5-hydroxyimidacloprid metabolites in the honeybee were studied by HPLC-MS/MS analysis. Honeybees were treated orally with imidacloprid at 20 and 50 microg kg(-1) bee. Imidacloprid was metabolised relatively quickly and thoroughly. Twenty minutes after the beginning of imidacloprid ingestion, the sum of the residues from the three compounds amounted to only 70% of the actual given dose. Imidacloprid, 5-hydroxyimidacloprid and olefin represented, respectively, 50%, 9% and 8% of the actual ingested dose. Six and 24 h, respectively, after ingestion of imidacloprid at 20 and 50 microg kg(-1) bee, imidacloprid could no longer be detected in the honeybee. Imidacloprid had a half-life ranging between 4.5 and 5 h and was rapidly metabolised into 5-hydroxyimidacloprid and olefin. Except 5-hydroxyimidacloprid in the 20 microg kg(-1) treatment, these two metabolites presented a peak value 4 h after ingestion of the 20 and 50 microg kg(-1) doses. This time fully coincided with the appearance of mortality induced by imidacloprid after acute oral intoxication. These results suggested that the immediate neurotoxicity symptoms are due to the action of imidacloprid, whereas 5-hydroxyimidacloprid and/or olefin are involved in honeybee mortality. In addition, it was likely that the 30% of residues undetected 20 min after intoxication were imidacloprid metabolites, although not 5-hydroxyimidacloprid or olefin. Thus, 5-hydroxyimidacloprid and olefin could not be the major metabolites in the worker bees.

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