Mild chronic exposure to pesticides alters physiological markers of honey bee health without perturbing the core gut microbiota.

  • publication
  • 13-03-2022

Almasri H, Liberti J, Brunet JL, Engel P, Belzunces LP. Sci Rep 2022 Mar;12(1):4281. PMC8917129. 10.1038/s41598-022-08009-2. 10.1038/s41598-022-08009-2.

Recent studies highlighted that exposure to glyphosate can affect specific members of the core gut microbiota of honey bee workers. However, in this study, bees were exposed to relatively high glyphosate concentrations. Here, we chronically exposed newly emerged honey bees to imidacloprid, glyphosate and difenoconazole, individually and in a ternary mixture, at an environmental concentration of 0.1 µg/L. We studied the effects of these exposures on the establishment of the gut microbiota, the physiological status, the longevity, and food consumption of the host. The core bacterial species were not affected by the exposure to the three pesticides. Negative effects were observed but they were restricted to few transient non-core bacterial species. However, in the absence of the core microbiota, the pesticides induced physiological disruption by directly altering the detoxification system, the antioxidant defenses, and the metabolism of the host. Our study indicates that even mild exposure to pesticides can directly alter the physiological homeostasis of newly emerged honey bees and particularly if the individuals exhibit a dysbiosis (i.e. mostly lack the core microbiota). This highlights the importance of an early establishment of a healthy gut bacterial community to strengthen the natural defenses of the honey bee against xenobiotic stressors.

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