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J Insect Physiol. 2016 Mar;86:40-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2016.01.001. Epub 2016 Jan 8.

The neonicotinoids thiacloprid, imidacloprid, and clothianidin affect the immunocompetence of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.).

Author information

  • 1LLH Bee Institute, Erlenstr. 9, 35274 Kirchhain, Germany. Electronic address: annely.brandt@llh.hessen.de.
  • 2LLH Bee Institute, Erlenstr. 9, 35274 Kirchhain, Germany.

Abstract

A strong immune defense is vital for honey bee health and colony survival. This defense can be weakened by environmental factors that may render honey bees more vulnerable to parasites and pathogens. Honey bees are frequently exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides, which are being discussed as one of the stress factors that may lead to colony failure. We investigated the sublethal effects of the neonicotinoids thiacloprid, imidacloprid, and clothianidin on individual immunity, by studying three major aspects of immunocompetence in worker bees: total hemocyte number, encapsulation response, and antimicrobial activity of the hemolymph. In laboratory experiments, we found a strong impact of all three neonicotinoids. Thiacloprid (24h oral exposure, 200 μg/l or 2000 μg/l) and imidacloprid (1 μg/l or 10 μg/l) reduced hemocyte density, encapsulation response, and antimicrobial activity even at field realistic concentrations. Clothianidin had an effect on these immune parameters only at higher than field realistic concentrations (50-200 μg/l). These results suggest that neonicotinoids affect the individual immunocompetence of honey bees, possibly leading to an impaired disease resistance capacity.

KEYWORDS:

Antimicrobial activity; Encapsulation; Hemocyte; Honey bee; Immune system; Neonicotinoid; Wound healing

PMID:
26776096
DOI:
10.1016/j.jinsphys.2016.01.001
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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