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While foraging in agro-environments honey bees are exposed to a wide range of agrochemicals used as fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and growth regulators. Most eco-toxicological studies have focused on the effects of single pesticides and report decreases in bee longevity. However, bees rarely encounter single pesticides in agro-environments, as mixtures of different contaminants is the norm. Studies combining the identification of potentially hazardous pesticides mixtures and manipulative experiments are therefore critical for improving risk assessment. We develop a method to identify field-relevant pesticide mixtures present in pollen, based on molecules prevalence, mode of action, co-occurrence and association to lower brood production, and tested their toxicity. We identified two pesticide mixtures that significantly changed bee behavior and life expectancy. Consisting of 3-4 fungicides and 1 insecticide at very low concentrations, the pesticide mixtures induced a delayed onset of foraging and a slower foraging activity. As bee longevity is strongly influenced by the amount of time spent foraging, exposed bees outlived control bees. Furthermore, one of these pesticide mixtures hampers pollen foraging. Physiological analysis revealed that the altered behavior was preceded by perturbations of the energetic metabolism. In conclusion, we found for the first time that pesticide exposure can translate into longer-lived but slower bees. These findings contrast with the commonly reported increase in bee mortality and are probably cryptic to the current risk assessment methods
Alberto Prado is a Mexican biologist interested in plantinsect interactions. Prado received his bachelor degree in Biology from the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro, México in 2008 and his Ph.D. in Plant Science and Chemical Ecology from McGill University in 2014. He has worked on a variety of taxa including cacti, cycads, sedges, beetles, butterflies and bees. Some of his previous research projects have focused on how plant chemistry affects insect behavior, and during his AgreenSkills+ fellowship he is working on pollen pollutants and their effects on the domestic honey bee. In collaboration with another AgreenSkills fellow, he has developed a new line of research on plant-pollinatormicrobe interactions, specifically on how bee transmitted bacteria can colonize the plant.
Prado, A., Rubio-Méndez, G, Yañez-Espinosa, L. & Bede J., 2016. Ontogenetic changes in azoxyglycoside levels in the leaves of Dioon edule Lindl. Journal of Chemical Ecology 42 (11): 1142-1150.
Prado, A., Sierra, A., Windsor, D. & Bede J.C., 2014. Leaf traits and herbivory in a tropical gymnosperm, Zamia stevensonii (Zamiaceae). American Journal of Botany 101: 437-447.
Prado, A., McKenna, D.D. & Windsor, D., 2012. Molecular evidence of cycad seed predation by immature Aulacoscelidinae (Coleoptera: Orsodacnidae). Systematic Entomology 37: 747-757.
Prado, A., Ledezma, J., Cubilla-Ríos, L., Bede, J.C. & Windsor, D., 2011. Two genera of Aulacoscelinae beetles reflexively bleed azoxyglycosides found in their host cycads. Journal of Chemical Ecology 37: 736-740.
Prado, A., Hawkins, J.A., Yesson, C. & Barcenas, R.T., 2010. Multiple diversity measures to identify complementary conservation areas for the Baja California peninsular cacti. Biological Conservation 143: 1510-1520.
International Society of Chemical Ecology - Student Travel Award 2014
FQRNT Merit Scholarship for foreign student 2012-2014
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Travel Award 2011
Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Fellowship 2011
Mexican Nationasl Science Council Doctoral Scholarship (CONACYT)