No effect of dual exposure to sulfoxaflor and a trypanosome parasite on bumblebee olfactory learning

Owen Vaughan, Ed Straw, Alberto Linguadoca, Mark J F Brown

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Bees are important pollinators in wild and agricultural ecosystems, and understanding the factors driving their global declines is key to maintaining these pollination services. Learning, which has
been a focus of previous ecotoxicological studies in bees, may play a key role in driving colony fitness. Here we move beyond the standard single-stressor approach to ask how multiple stressors, an agrochemical (sulfoxaflor, a relatively new insecticide) and a parasite (Crithidia bombi, a prevalent
gut parasite of bumblebees), impact learning in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. We developed a modified version of the classic proboscis extension reflex assay to assess the combined effects of acute oral sulfoxaflor exposure and infection by C. bombi on olfactory learning of bumblebee workers. We found no evidence that either sulfoxaflor, C. bombi, or their combination had any significant effect on bumblebee olfactory learning, despite their known negative impacts on other aspects of bumblebee health. This suggests that losses in cognitive ability, as measured here, are unlikely to explain the impacts of sulfoxaflor and its interactions with other stressors on bumblebees. Our novel methodology provides a model system within which to test interactive effects of other key stressors on bee health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8611 (2022)
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2022

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