Imidacloprid Increases the Prevalence of Lotmaria Passim in Honey Bee Workers

Erban, T., Parizkova, K., Sopko, B., Talacko, P., Markovic, M., Jarosova, J., Votypka, J.

Keywords: Insecticide, Sublethal effect, Apis mellifera, Pollinator, Transferrin 1 precursor, Synergistic effect
Abstract: A challenge in bee protection is to assess the risks of pesticide-pathogen interactions. Lotmaria passim, a ubiquitous unicellular parasite in honey bees, is considered harmful under specific conditions. Imidacloprid causes unpredictable side effects. Research indicates that both L. passim and imidacloprid may affect the physiology, behavior, immunity, microbiome and lifespan of honey bees. We designed cage experiments to test whether the infection of L. passim is affected by a sublethal dose of imidacloprid. Workers collected at the time of emergence were exposed to L. passim and 2.5 μg/L imidacloprid in the coexposure treatment group. First, samples of bees were taken from cages since they were 5 days old and 3 days postinfection, i.e., after finishing an artificial 24 h L. passim infection. Additional bees were collected every two additional days. In addition, bees frozen at the time of emergence and collected from the unexposed group were analyzed. Abdomens were analyzed using qPCR to determine parasite load, while corresponding selected heads were subjected to a label-free proteomic analysis. Our results show that bees are free of L. passim at the time of emergence. Furthermore, imidacloprid considerably increased the prevalence as well as parasite loads in individual bees. This means that imidacloprid facilitates infection, enabling faster parasite spread in a colony and potentially to surrounding colonies. The proteomic analysis of bee heads showed that imidacloprid neutralized the increased transferrin 1 expression by L. passim. Importantly, this promising marker has been previously observed to be upregulated by infections, including gut parasites. This study contributes to understanding the side effects of imidacloprid and demonstrates that a single xenobiotic/pesticide compound can interact with the gut parasite. Our methodology can be used to assess the effects of different compounds on L. passim.
DOI: IEB authors: Jana Jarošová