Cell death localization in situ in laboratory reared honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) larvae treated with pesticides

Abstract: In this study, cell death detected by DNA fragmentation labeling and phosphatidylserine (PS) localization was investigated in the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) midgut, salivary glands and ovaries after treating larvae with different pesticides offered via an artificial diet. To do this, honey bee larvae reared in an incubator were exposed to one of nine pesticides: chlorpyrifos, imidacloprid, amitraz, fluvalinate, coumaphos, myclobutanil, chlorothalonil, glyphosate and simazine. Following this, larvae were fixed and prepared for immunohistologically detected cellular death using two TUNEL techniques for DNA fragmentation labeling and Annexin V to detect the localization of exposed PS specific in situ binding to apoptotic cells.
Untreated larvae experienced 10% midgut apoptotic cell death under controlled conditions. All applied pesticides triggered an increase in apoptosis in treated compared to untreated larvae. The level of cell death in the midgut of simazine-treated larvae was highest at 77% mortality and statistically similar to the level of cell death for chlorpyrifos (65%), imidacloprid (61%), myclobutanil (69%), and glyphosate (69%) treated larvae. Larvae exposed to fluvalinate had the lowest midgut columnar apoptotic cell death (30%) of any pesticide-treated larvae. Indications of elevated apoptotic cell death in salivary glands and ovaries after pesticide application were detected. Annexin V localization, indicative of apoptotic cell deletion, had an extensive distribution in the midgut, salivary glands and ovaries of pesticide-treated larvae.
The data suggest that the tested pesticides induced apoptosis in tissues of honey bee larvae at the tested concentrations. Cell death localization as a tool for a monitoring the subclinical and sub-lethal effects of external influences on honey bee larval tissues is discussed.

Ales Gregorc and James D. Ellis (in press) Cell death localization in situ in laboratory reared honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) larvae treated with pesticides, Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology.