The power of Drosophila melanogaster for modelling pesticide effects on pollinators and identifying novel effects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world and are implicated in the widespread population declines of insects including pollinators. Neonicotinoids target the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors which occur throughout the insect central nervous system, causing a wide range of sub-lethal effects in non-target insects. Here we review the potential of Drosophila melanogaster to model the sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators, utilising the well-established assays available to allow rapid identification of the lethal and sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids. We compare studies on the effects of neonicotinoids on lethality, reproduction, locomotion, immunity, learning, circadian rhythms and sleep in D. melanogaster and a range of pollinators. Additionally, we review the genetic tools available in D. melanogaster, such as UAS:GAL4 and RNAi lines and how they can allow exploration of the mechanisms underlying sub-lethal effects. We argue that studying pollinators and D. melanogaster in tandem allows elucidation of mechanisms of action, the transferal of techniques and assays from D. melanogaster to pollinator species, and the identification of novel sublethal effects such as on circadian rhythms and sleep. The comparison of effects between D. melanogaster and pollinators and the use of genetic tools to identify mechanisms may also facilitate the creation of more specific pesticides in the future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusIn preparation - 2020

Student Theses

The effect of neonicotinoid pesticides on the circadian clock and sleep of fruit flies and bumblebees

Author: Tasman, K., 12 May 2020

Supervisor: Hodge, J. J. L. (Supervisor) & Rands, S. A. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


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