The effect of temperature on candidate gene expression in the brain of honey bee Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) workers exposed to neonicotinoid imidacloprid
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Neonicotinoid insecticides are potent agonists of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and are a major factor in the decline of pollinators worldwide. Several studies show that low doses of this neurotoxin influence honey bee physiology, however, little is known about how insecticides interact with other environmental variables. We studied the effects of two neonicotinoid Imidacloprid doses (IMD, 0, 2.5, and 10 ppb), and three temperatures (20, 28, and 36°C) on gene expression in the brains of worker honey bees (Apis mellifera). Using qRT-PCR we quantified the expression of eight key genes related to the nervous system, stress response, and motor and olfactory capacities. Gene expression tended to increase with the low IMD dose, which was further intensified in individuals maintained in the cold treatment (20°C). At 20°C the octopamine receptor gene (oa1) was underexpressed in bees that were not exposed to IMD, but overexpressed in individuals exposed to 2.5 ppb IMD. Also, heat shock proteins (hsp70 and hsp90) increased their expression at high temperatures (36°C), but not with IMD doses. These results suggest that despite the low insecticide concentrations used in this study (a field-realistic dose), changes in gene expression associated with honey bee physiological responses could be induced. This study contributes to the understanding of how neonicotinoid residual doses may alter honey bee physiology.