DOI: 10.1101/295576Apr 5, 2018Paper

The cholinergic pesticide imidacloprid impairs contrast and direction sensitivity in motion detecting neurons of an insect pollinator

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Elisa Rigosi, David C O'Carroll

Abstract

Cholinergic pesticides such as the neonicotinoid imidacloprid are the most important insecticides used for plant protection worldwide. In recent decades concerns have been raised about side effects on non-target insect species, including altered foraging behaviour and navigation. Although pollinators rely on visual cues to forage and navigate their environment, the effect of neonicotinoids on visual processing have been largely overlooked. Here we describe a modified electrophysiological setup that allowed recordings of visually evoked responses while perfusing the brain in vivo . Long-lasting recordings from wide-field motion sensitive neurons of the hoverfly pollinator, Eristalis tenax , revealed that sub-lethal exposure to imidacloprid alters their physiological response to motion stimuli. We observed substantially increased spontaneous firing rate, reduced contrast sensitivity and weaker directional tuning to wide-field moving stimuli. This approach reveals sub-lethal effects of imidacloprid in the visual motion detecting system of an important pollinator with likely implications for flight control, hovering and routing.

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