Queens become workers: pesticides alter caste differentiation in bees - GreenMedInfo Summary
Queens become workers: pesticides alter caste differentiation in bees.
Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 17 ;6:31605. Epub 2016 Aug 17. PMID: 27530246
Charles F Dos Santos
Bees are important for the world biodiversity and economy because they provide key pollination services in forests and crops. However, pesticide use in crops has adversely affected (decreased) queen production because of increased mortality among larvae. Here, we demonstrated that in vitro-reared queens of a neotropical social bee species (Plebeia droryana) also showed high larval mortality after exposure to an organophosphate pesticide (chlorpyrifos) via larval food. Moreover, most of the surviving larvae that were destined to develop into queens became workers more likely because they ate less food than expected without pesticide skewing thus caste differentiation in this bee species. This adverse effect has not been previously reported for any other social insects, such as honeybees or bumblebees. Queens are essential for breeding and colony growth. Therefore, if our data are applicable to other pantropical social bee species across the globe, it is likely that these bees are at a serious risk of failure to form new colonies.