Sublethal effects of neonicotinoids on the honeybee brain: from single neuron imaging to colony studies
This interdisciplinary project is investigating sublethal effects of neonicotinoids on the bee olfactory system, which plays a major role in bee orientation, floral recognition, and social communication. A team of neuroscientists, biologists, physicists, entomologists, and beekeepers studies possible influences at several scales: at the microscopic level, starting at the very periphery of the odour perception pathway at the antennas, possible modification in odour transduction will be evaluated with an electrophysiological approach. Alteration of the odour coding will be study within the honeybee brain by in vivo functional neuroimaging using two-photon microscopy. This allows the observation of direct effects of acute and chronic exposure along the olfactory information processing pathway. Behavioural experiments in the laboratory will investigate consequences of these neuroplastic changes to single animal behaviour, investigating the animals' ability to learn and memorize odorants, particularly pheromones, essential for their social interaction, and flower volatiles, guiding bees to blooming plants. Finally, the team will evaluate the consequences within honeybee colonies by monitoring in field studies possible changes in foraging behaviour, hive organization, communication, and performances in various colony-specific tasks.