Julia Poska| September 27, 2018
A recent study from Japan’s Osaka University aims to help protect pollinators from harm by studying how insects metabolize pesticides.
Researchers sliced fruit flies into very thin layers with a special technique developed to keep their delicate features in tact. They used a laser to glean tissue from the layers, which they analyzed to see how Imidacloprid-a, a common agricultural pesticide, spread through the fruit fly bodies.
Imidacloprid-a is one of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which have received a lot of negative attention for being linked to declining bee populations. France recently banned five types of neonicotenoids, including imidacloprid, in an effort to protect pollinators.
Scientific studies have yielded mixed results on the actual effects of neonicotinoids on bees, however. Some have found that bees can get addicted to the nicotine derivatives, and claim they kill. Others say that only certain species are affected, and that concentration levels in the field are insufficient to do real harm.
This report, published in the journal Analytical Sciences, may help bring clarity to the confused issue. It is the first of its kind, due to the exceptional difficulty of preparing and imaging detailed tissue specimens of fruit flies. The researchers hope others will use their technique to look further into pesticide metabolism in the future.