While there is widespread concern regarding the impact of pesticides on honey bees, well-replicated field experiments, to date, have failed to provide clear insights on pesticide effects. Here, we adopt a systems biology approach to gain insights into the web of interactions amongst the factors influencing honey bee health. We put the focus on the properties of the system that depend upon its architecture and not on the strength, often unknown, of each single interaction. Then we test in vivo, on caged honey bees, the predictions derived from this modelling analysis. We show that the impact of toxic compounds on honey bee health can be shaped by the concurrent stressors affecting bees. We demonstrate that the immune-suppressive capacity of the widespread pathogen of bees, deformed wing virus, can introduce a critical positive feed-back loop in the system causing bistability, i.e., two stable equilibria. Therefore, honey bees under similar initial conditions can experience different consequences when exposed to the same stressor, including prolonged survival or premature death. The latter can generate an increased vulnerability of the hive to dwindling and collapse. Our conclusions reconcile contrasting field-testing outcomes and have important implications for the application of field studies to complex systems.

A deeper understanding of system interactions can explain contradictory field results on pesticide impact on honey bees

Breda, Dimitri;Frizzera, Davide;Seffin, Elisa;Zanni, Virginia;Annoscia, Desiderato;Blanchini, Franco
;
Nazzi, Francesco
2022

Abstract

While there is widespread concern regarding the impact of pesticides on honey bees, well-replicated field experiments, to date, have failed to provide clear insights on pesticide effects. Here, we adopt a systems biology approach to gain insights into the web of interactions amongst the factors influencing honey bee health. We put the focus on the properties of the system that depend upon its architecture and not on the strength, often unknown, of each single interaction. Then we test in vivo, on caged honey bees, the predictions derived from this modelling analysis. We show that the impact of toxic compounds on honey bee health can be shaped by the concurrent stressors affecting bees. We demonstrate that the immune-suppressive capacity of the widespread pathogen of bees, deformed wing virus, can introduce a critical positive feed-back loop in the system causing bistability, i.e., two stable equilibria. Therefore, honey bees under similar initial conditions can experience different consequences when exposed to the same stressor, including prolonged survival or premature death. The latter can generate an increased vulnerability of the hive to dwindling and collapse. Our conclusions reconcile contrasting field-testing outcomes and have important implications for the application of field studies to complex systems.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
41467_2022_Article_33405.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale (PDF)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 1.34 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.34 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11390/1233504
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 0
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 0
social impact