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Pest Manag Sci. 2004 Nov;60(11):1056-62.

In vivo distribution and metabolisation of 14C-imidacloprid in different compartments of Apis mellifera L.

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INRA, Laboratoire de Toxicologie Environnementale, UMR 406 INRA-UAPV Ecologie des invertébrés, Site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France.


In vivo distribution of the neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, was followed during 72 h in six biological compartments of Apis mellifera L: head, thorax, abdomen, haemolymph, midgut and rectum. Honeybees were treated orally with 100 microg of 14C-imidacloprid per kg of bee, a dose close to the median lethal dose. Elimination half-life of total radioactivity in honeybee was 25 h. Haemolymph was the compartment with the lowest and rectum that with the highest level of total radioactivity during the whole study, with a maximum 24h after treatment. Elimination half-life of imidacloprid in whole honeybee was 5 h. Imidacloprid was readily distributed and metabolised only by Phase I enzymes into five metabolites: 4/5-hydroxy-imidacloprid, 4,5-dihydroxy-imidacloprid, 6-chloronicotinic acid, and olefin and urea derivatives. The guanidine derivative was not detected. The urea derivative and 6-chloronicotinic acid were the main metabolites and appeared particularly in midgut and rectum. The olefin derivative and 4/5-hydroxy-imidacloprid preferentially occurred in head, thorax and abdomen, which are nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-rich tissues. Moreover, they presented a peak value around 4 h after imidacloprid ingestion. These results explain the prolongation of imidacloprid action in bees, and particularly the differences between rapid intoxication symptoms and late mortality.

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