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Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 | Author:

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Banned Insecticide Causes Changes In Honeybee Genes
By News Staff | July 2nd 2013 09:36 AM 

A new paper says that exposure to a banned neonicotinoid insecticide causes changes to the genes of the honeybee. The paper was written to support the recent decision taken by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoids amid concerns that they could be linked to bee deaths.

Honeybees pollinate one-third of the food that we eat and the experiment looked at changes in the activity of honeybee genes linked to one of the recently banned neonicotinoids, imidacloprid.

The work (in press), led by Dr. Reinhard Stöger, Associate Professor in Epigenetics in the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences, found that a very low exposure of just two parts per billion has an impact on the activity of some of the honeybee genes.

The researchers conclude that cells of honeybee larvae had to “work harder” and increase the activity of genes involved in breaking down toxins most likely to cope with the insecticide. Genes involved in regulating energy to run cells were also affected. Such changes are known to reduce the lifespan of the most widely studied insect, the common fruit fly, and lower a larva’s probability of surviving to adulthood.

Stöger said, “Although larvae can still grow and develop in the presence of imidacloprid, the stability of the developmental process appears to be compromised. Should the bees be exposed to additional stresses such as pests, disease and bad weather then it is likely to increase the rate of development failure.”

The study was funded by The Co-operative Group, a $15 billion UK company, as part of its Plan Bee campaign. Chris Shearlock, Sustainable Development Manager at The Co-operative, said: “This is a very significant piece of research, which clearly shows clear changes in honeybee gene activity as a result of exposure to a pesticide, which is currently in common use across the UK.

“As part of our Plan Bee campaign launched in 2009 we have adopted a precautionary approach and prohibited the use of six neonicotinoid pesticides, including imidacloprid, on our own-brand fresh and frozen produce and have welcomed the recent approach by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoid pesticides as this will allow for research into the impact on both pollinators and agricultural productivity.”

DERECKA K, BLYTHE MJ, MALLA S, GENEREUX DP, GUFFANTI A, PAVAN P, MOLES A, SNART C, RYDER T, ORTORI CA, BARRETT DA, SCHUSTER E and STÖGER R, 2013. Transient exposure to low levels of insecticide affects metabolic networks of honeybee larvae PLOS ONE.

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/banned_insecticide_causes_changes_honeybee_genes-115893

Friday, June 05th, 2009 | Author:

Public release date: 4-Jun-2009

Contact: Dennis O’Brien
dennis.obrien@ars.usda.gov
301-504-1624
Public Library of Science

Bee-killing parasite genome sequenced

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have sequenced the genome of a parasite that can kill honey bees. Nosema ceranae is one of many pathogens suspected of contributing to the current bee population decline, termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Researchers describe the parasite’s genome in a study published June 5 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

In 2006, CCD began devastating commercial beekeeping operations, with some beekeepers reporting losses of up to 90 percent, according to the USDA. Researchers believe CCD may be the result of a combination of pathogens, parasites and stress factors, but the cause remains elusive. At stake are honey bees that play a valuable part in a $15 billion industry of crop farming in the United States.

The microsporidian Nosema is a fungus-related microbe that produces spores that bees consume when they forage. Infection spreads from their digestive tract to other tissues. Within weeks, colonies are either wiped out or lose much of their strength. Nosema apis was the leading cause of microsporidia infections among domestic bee colonies until recently when N. ceranae jumped from Asian honey bees to the European honey bees used commercially in the United States.

The ARS scientists used genetic tools and microscopic analysis at the ARS Bee Research Laboratory (BRL) in Beltsville, Maryland to examine N. ceranae. They collaborated with colleagues at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, Columbia University, New York, New York, and 454 Life Sciences, of Branford, Connecticut.

Sequencing the genome should help scientists trace the parasite’s migration patterns, determine how it became dominant, and help resolve the spread of infection by enabling the development of diagnostic tests and treatments.

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ARS is a scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: Supported by the USDA-ARS Administrator fund, www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome (JDE, JC, JP), North America Pollinator Protection Campaign, www.pollinator.org (JE, JC), USDA-NRI grant # 2002-0256, www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome (JE), Northeast Biodefense Center Grant # U54AI57158, www.nbc.columbia.edu (WIL), and Google.org Contract # 17-2008, www.google.org (WIL). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this paper is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

COMPETING INTERESTS: ME, SH, and BD are employed by 454 Life Sciences/Roche Applied Sciences.

PLEASE ADD THIS LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000464 (link will go live upon embargo lift)

CITATION: Cornman RS, Chen YP, Schatz MC, Street C, Zhao Y, et al. (2009) Genomic Analyses of the Microsporidian Nosema ceranae, an Emergent Pathogen of Honey Bees. PLoS Pathog 5(6): e1000466. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000466

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