Micaela Buteler, Andrea Marina Alma, Teodoro Stadler, Ariane Carnebia Gingold, María Celeste Manattini, MarianaLozada
Microplastics (MPs) are considered emerging and persistent pollutants, although most of the research has been conducted on marine environments. Declines in honeybee populations have been reported globally, and recently, microplastic pollution has been considered a possible cause of this. Thus, we aimed to determine acute toxicity of polyester fibers and their effects on foraging behavior in honeybees. To test this, we conducted an oral acute toxicity bioassay, testing the effect of MPs on individual honeybees, and we studied the foraging behavior of honeybees when exposed to food and water containing MPs. We observed no mortality in honeybees fed with sucrose solution containing 100 mg MP/L after 24 and 48 h. Upon bee dissection of the digestive tract, we found 1.27 ± 1.5 fibers per bee, showing a mean (±SE) of 0.92 (±1.14) and 0.32 (±0.70) in their gut and crop respectively. The length of these microfibers ranged between 0.05 and 1.24 mm with a mean (±SE) of 0.42 (±0.25) mm. Although we did not find any preference or avoidance of MPs when presented in sucrose solutions and water; bees consumed MP-free solutions faster than solutions with 10 and 100 mg MPs/L. This might be due to changes in the viscosity of the solutions containing plastic and has implications for the impact of microplastic pollution on insects. Results suggest that MPS do not pose a threat to honeybees in the short term, based on the lack of acute mortality. However, bee foraging behavior does not prevent them from ingesting MPs present in water or resources which potentially might cause lethal long-term effects of MPs.
* THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.