Efforts to create pesticides that are not toxic to bees have been boosted by a scientific breakthrough.
A joint study by the University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG has discovered the enzymes in honeybees and bumblebees that determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoid pesticides.
The potential impact of neonicotinoids on bee health is a subject of intensive research and considerable controversy, with the European Union having restricted three compounds on crops that are attractive to bees in 2013.
However, both honeybees and bumblebees exhibit profound differences in their sensitivity to different members of this insecticide class. The researchers aimed to understand why this is, in order to aid the development of pesticides that are non-toxic to them.
Just as in other organisms, toxins in bees can be broken down by enzymes called cytochrome P450s. The study identified one subfamily of these enzymes in bees – CYP9Q – and found it was responsible for the rapid breakdown of certain neonicotinoids.
“Identifying these key enzymes provides valuable tools to screen new pesticides early in their development to see if bees can break them down,” said Professor Chris Bass, who led the team at the University of Exeter.
“It can take a decade and $260 million to develop a single pesticide, so this knowledge can help us avoid wasting time and money on pesticides that will end up with substantial use restrictions due to intrinsic bee toxicity.”
Dr Ralf Nauen, insect toxicologist and lead investigator of the study at Bayer added: “Knowing the mechanisms contributing to inherent tolerance helps us and regulators to better understand why certain insecticides have a high margin of safety to bees”.
“The knowledge from our study can also be used to predict and prevent potential harmful effects that result from inadvertently blocking these key defence systems, for instance by different pesticides (such as certain fungicides) that may be applied in combination with insecticides.”
Professor Lin Field, Head of the Department of Biointeractions and Crop Protection at Rothamsted Research added: “Some neonicotinoids are intrinsically highly toxic to bees but others have very low acute toxicity, but in public debate they tend to get tarred with the same brush.
“Each insecticide needs to be considered on its own risks and merits, not just its name.”
The researchers carried out the most comprehensive analysis of bee P450 detoxification enzymes ever attempted.
Comparing the effects of two neonicotinoids, they found bees metabolise thiacloprid very efficiently, while they metabolise imidacloprid much less efficiently.
Although previous work had suggested rate of metabolism might explain why bees react differently to different neonicotinoids, the specific genes or enzymes were unknown until now.
The research was part funded by Bayer, which is a manufacturer of neonicotinoid insecticides.
The Latest on: Bee-friendly pesticides
via Google News
The Latest on: Bee-friendly pesticides
- Huge consumer support for 'bee friendly' pesticide standards on December 11, 2018 at 4:34 am
Global consumer group 'SumOfUs' is pushing European governments to introduce 'higher standards' to protect bees from pesticides. Wielding a petition signed by over 130,000 EU residents, it is demandin... […]
- Over 130,000 Demand Improved Bee Friendly Pesticide Testing Standards From EU on December 7, 2018 at 10:00 am
Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on cli... […]
- EU pesticide ban failing to protect suburban bees on July 24, 2018 at 6:53 am
A previous study by the University of Sussex revealed that 70% of bee-friendly plants sold at a range of garden centres had traces of neonicotinoids. For nectar samples collected from rural bumblebee ... […]
- Scientists Closer to Developing a Bee-friendly Pesticide on April 18, 2018 at 1:05 pm
Mounting evidence suggests one of the most widely used insecticides in the world — neonicotinoid — is threatening bees, but other experts claim there's not enough data to justify a ban in the U.S. Now ... […]
- Pesticides having negative impacts on bees on April 5, 2018 at 7:43 am
Advertised as bee-friendly, the pesticide can even be applied on flowering fields. It has been available in the US market since 2015. In the EU, it is approved but not yet available. Measurable impact ... […]
- Breakthrough could aid development of bee-friendly pesticides on March 22, 2018 at 9:07 am
Efforts to create pesticides that are not toxic to bees have been boosted by a scientific breakthrough. A joint study by the University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG has discovered the e... […]
- Australian company behind bee-friendly bio insecticide Sero-X secures deal to keep production in Goondiwindi on February 19, 2017 at 5:39 am
Innovate Ag from Wee Waa in northern New South Wales has spent 15 years developing Sero-X, a pesticide using peptides from the butterfly pea legume as its active ingredient. Last year the product was ... […]
- Costco calls for end to bee-killing pesticides on January 22, 2017 at 7:48 am
The retail corporation Costco has requested that its suppliers end the use of bee-killing pesticides on garden plants sold ... Ironically, many of the plants are sold as ‘bee friendly’ and are intende... […]
via Bing News