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Lethality of synthetic and natural acaricides to worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) and their impact on the expression of health and detoxification-related genes

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Abstract

In this study, honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) were exposed to LD05 and LD50 doses of five commonly used acaricides for controlling the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor. LD50 values at 48 h post-treatment showed that tau-fluvalinate was the most toxic, followed by amitraz, coumaphos, thymol, and formic acid. However, the hazard ratios, which estimate the hive risk level based on a ratio of a standard dose of acaricide per hive to the LD50 of the acaricide, revealed that tau-fluvalinate was the most hazardous followed by formic acid, coumaphos, amitraz, and thymol. The expression of the honey bee acetylcholinesterase gene increased after treatment with the LD05 and LD50 acaricide doses and could distinguish three patterns in the timing and level of increased expression between acaricides: one for amitraz, one for tau-fluvalinate and formic acid, and one for coumaphos and thymol. Conversely, changes in cytochrome P450 gene expression could also be detected in response to all five acaricides, but there were no significant differences between them. Changes in vitellogenin gene expression could only detect the effects of tau-fluvalinate, amitraz, or coumaphos treatment, which were not significantly different from each other. Among the acaricides tested, coumaphos, amitraz, and thymol appear to be the safest acaricides based on their hazard ratios, and a good marker to detect differences between the effects of sub-lethal doses of acaricides is monitoring changes in acetylcholinesterase gene expression.

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Acknowledgments

The following people contributed in different ways in the experiments conducted: Paul G. Kelly, Mollah Md. Hamiduzzaman, Abril Soria-Martínez, Nancy Bradbury, Mariana Guzman, Masha Burelo, Brooke Wallace, David Stotesbury, and Angela Gradish. This study was partially funded by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to EG.

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Correspondence to Hanan A. Gashout.

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Gashout, H.A., Goodwin, P.H. & Guzman-Novoa, E. Lethality of synthetic and natural acaricides to worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) and their impact on the expression of health and detoxification-related genes. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 34730–34739 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-3205-6

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