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Sublethal concentrations of imidacloprid increase reproduction, alter expression of detoxification genes, and prime Myzus persicae for subsequent stress

Abstract

Hormesis, a biphasic phenomenon characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition following exposure to stress, has been reported in many different insects exposed to low doses of pesticide. Using green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer) (Hemiptera: Aphididae), and the insecticide imidacloprid as a model, we tested whether or not there were changes in expression of genes involved in insecticide detoxification and general stress when aphids were exposed over multiple generations in a greenhouse setting to imidacloprid concentrations that induced hormetic responses. We also wanted to know whether exposure to insecticide concentrations that induce reproductive hormesis impacted the insect’s ability to cope with a subsequent stressor. The instantaneous rate of increase and total reproductive output of aphids developing on potato plants treated with 0.25 µg imidacloprid L−1 was significantly greater than that on control plants. Treatments of 0.25 and 2.5 µg imidacloprid L−1 significantly increased or decreased expression of genes for E4-esterase, cytochrome P450-CYP6CY3, and Hsp60 in aphids, with variation within and across generations. Third-generation aphids from plants treated with 0.25 µg imidacloprid L−1 survived longer than control aphids when subsequently subjected to food/water stress, but not when subsequently exposed to a LC20 of another insecticide. Our results indicate insecticide-induced reproduction hormesis in M. persicae is accompanied by intermittent changes in expression of detoxification and stress-coping genes, and that it can prime the insect to cope with subsequent stress.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was through an NSERC Discovery Grant to GCC (Grant No. RGPIN-2014-03577). We thank D. O’Neail and B. Prithiviraj for technical assistance.

Author contributions

GCC and MMA conceived and designed the experiments. MMA and RRR conducted experiments. MMA and RRR analysed data. GCC supplied materials and analytical tools. RRR, MMA and GCC wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to G. Christopher Cutler.

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Communicated by M. Traugott.

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Rix, R.R., Ayyanath, M.M. & Christopher Cutler, G. Sublethal concentrations of imidacloprid increase reproduction, alter expression of detoxification genes, and prime Myzus persicae for subsequent stress. J Pest Sci 89, 581–589 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10340-015-0716-5

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Keywords

  • Hormesis
  • Green peach aphid
  • Stimulated reproduction
  • Gene expression
  • Stress conditioning