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Proc Biol Sci. 2016 Jul 27;283(1835). pii: 20160506. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0506.

Neonicotinoid insecticides can serve as inadvertent insect contraceptives.

Author information

1
Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland lars.straub@vetsuisse.unibe.ch.
2
Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland Environmental Science Department, University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany.
3
Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
4
Bee Protection Laboratory (BeeP), Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
5
Agroscope, Swiss Bee Research Centre, Bern, Switzerland.
6
Bee Protection Laboratory (BeeP), Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand School of Science, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
7
Veterinary Public Health Institute, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
8
Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland Bee Protection Laboratory (BeeP), Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand Agroscope, Swiss Bee Research Centre, Bern, Switzerland Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
9
Institute of Bee Health, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland Bee Protection Laboratory (BeeP), Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand Agroscope, Swiss Bee Research Centre, Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

There is clear evidence for sublethal effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on non-target ecosystem service-providing insects. However, their possible impact on male insect reproduction is currently unknown, despite the key role of sex. Here, we show that two neonicotinoids (4.5 ppb thiamethoxam and 1.5 ppb clothianidin) significantly reduce the reproductive capacity of male honeybees (drones), Apis mellifera Drones were obtained from colonies exposed to the neonicotinoid insecticides or controls, and subsequently maintained in laboratory cages until they reached sexual maturity. While no significant effects were observed for male teneral (newly emerged adult) body mass and sperm quantity, the data clearly showed reduced drone lifespan, as well as reduced sperm viability (percentage living versus dead) and living sperm quantity by 39%. Our results demonstrate for the first time that neonicotinoid insecticides can negatively affect male insect reproductive capacity, and provide a possible mechanistic explanation for managed honeybee queen failure and wild insect pollinator decline. The widespread prophylactic use of neonicotinoids may have previously overlooked inadvertent contraceptive effects on non-target insects, thereby limiting conservation efforts.

KEYWORDS:

Apis mellifera; insecticide; pollination; reproduction; sperm; sub-lethal

PMID:
27466446
PMCID:
PMC4971197
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2016.0506
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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