Protecting pollinators: The mechanistic effects of a fungicide on honey bee health

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal is an application for a postdoctoral fellowship (A7201). The aims of this research project align with the Pollinator Health: Research and Applications program area priority (A1113), within the AFRI priority area of Plant Health Protection and Plant products. Honey bee and other pollinator populations continue to decline in part due to exposure to pesticides; however, whether exposure to fungicides is a significant contributor to pollinator decline is unknown. We recently conducted the first study of the impacts of consumption of field-relevant doses of a fungicide on colony health of honey bees. Colonies fed pollen containing the fungicide Pristine experienced lower population levels, earlier onset of foraging, increased pollen foraging, reduced worker lifespan and reduced overwintering survival. In this research, I will test my hypothesis that the mito-toxic active ingredients of Pristine impair gut mitochondrial function, leading to poor pollen digestion and low hemolymph protein and vitellogenin levels, contributing to earlier foraging and death. To test this hypothesis, I will use micro-tissue respirometry, measurement of digestive enzymes, hemolymph proteins, and ELISA protein assays. Using GC-MS, I will also measure the concentrations of fungicide active ingredients in bee tissues to assess the potential for more general mitochondrial inhibition. Finally, I will construct predictive models to assess a broader range of fungicide exposures under various environmental conditions. This fellowship will provide me with training experiences in biochemistry, physiology and modeling, strengthening my ability to develop an agriculture-focused research program, aligning with AFRI Education and Workforce Development Program goals.
Effective start/end date6/1/215/31/23


  • USDA: National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA): $164,633.00


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