Impact of sublethal exposure to synthetic and natural acaricides on honey bee (Apis mellifera) memory and expression of genes related to memory



Gashout HA, Guzman-Novoa E, Goodwin PH, Correa-Benítez A.


J Insect Physiol. 2020 Feb-Mar;121:104014. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2020.104014. Epub 2020 Jan 7.


Acaricides are used by beekeepers in honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies to control parasitic mites, but may also have adverse effects to honey bees. In this study, five commonly used acaricides were tested for their sublethal effects on memory and expression of neural-related genes in honey bees. Memory measured with the proboscis extension reflex (PER) assay was significantly reduced by topical treatment of bees with a single LD(05) dose of formic acid at 2 and 24 h post treatment (hpt). However, tau-fluvalinate, amitraz, coumaphos, and formic acid, but not thymol, resulted in memory loss at 48 hpt. The LD(05) doses of the acraricides did not affect expression of neuroligin-1, related to memory, or expression of major royal jelly protein-1, related to both memory and development, although expression of both genes was affected at LD(50) doses. The LD(05) doses of thymol, formic acid, amitraz and coumaphos increased defensin-1 expression, which is related to both memory and immunity. The effect of thymol, however, may have been due to its impact on the immune response rather than memory. This study demonstrates that acaricides vary in their effects on bee’s memory, and that the widely used acaricide, formic acid, is particularly damaging. CI – Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Link/DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2020.104014