Exposure of honey bee larvae to thiamethoxam and its interaction with Nosema ceranae infection in adult honey bees

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Tesovnik Tanja, Zorc Minja, Ristanić Marko, Glavinić Uroš, Stevanović Jevrosima, Narat Mojca, Stanimirović Zoran (2019) Exposure of honey bee larvae to thiamethoxam and its interaction with Nosema ceranae infection in adult honey bees, Environmental Pollution, DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113443


During their lifetime honey bees (Apis mellifera) rarely experience optimal conditions. Sometimes, a simultaneous action of multiple stressors, natural and chemical, results in even greater effect than of any stressor alone. Therefore, integrative investigations of different factors affecting honey bees have to be carried out. In this study, adult honey bees exposed to thiamethoxam in larval and/or adult stage and infected with Nosema ceranae were examined. Newly emerged bees from colonies, non-treated or treated with thiamethoxam, were organized in six groups and kept in cages. Thiamethoxam treated bees were further exposed to either thiamethoxam or Nosema (groups TT and TN), or simultaneously to both (group TTN). Newly emerged bees from non-treated colonies were exposed to Nosema (group CN). From both, treated and non-treated colonies two groups were organized and further fed only with sugar solution (groups C and TC). Here, we present the expression profile of 19 genes in adult worker honey bees comprising those involved in immune, detoxification, development and apoptosis response. Results showed that gene expression patterns changed with time and depended on the treatment. In group TC at the time of emergence the majority of tested genes were downregulated, among which nine were significantly altered. The same gene pattern was observed on day six, where the only significantly upregulated gene was defensin-1. On day nine most of analyzed genes in all experimental groups showed upregulation compared to control group, where upregulation of antimicrobial peptide genes abaecindefensin-1 and defensin-2 was significant in groups TT and TTN. On day 15 we observed a similar pattern of expression in groups TC and TT exposed to thiamethoxam only, where most of the detoxification genes were downregulated. Additionally RNA loads of Nosema and honey bee viruses were recorded. We detected a synergistic interaction of thiamethoxam and Nosema, reflected in lowest honey bee survival.