Applications of systemic pesticides can have unexpected direct and indirect effects on nontarget organisms, producing ecosystem-level impacts. We investigated whether a systemic insecticide (imidacloprid) could be absorbed by a plant pathogenic fungus infecting treated plants and whether the absorbed levels were high enough to have detrimental effects on the survival of a mycophagous beetle. Beetle larvae fed on these fungi were used to assess the survival effects of powdery mildew and imidacloprid in a factorial design. Fungal conidia were collected from treated and untreated plants and were tested for the presence and concentration of imidacloprid. The survival of beetles fed powdery mildew from imidacloprid-treated leaves was significantly lower than that of the beetles from all other treatments. Imidacloprid accumulated in fungal conidia and hyphae was detected at levels considered lethal to other insects, including coccinellid beetles. Water-soluble systemic insecticides may disrupt mycophagous insects as well as other nontarget organisms, with significant implications for biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Choudhury, Robin A., Andrew M. Sutherland, Matt J. Hengel, Michael P. Parrella, and W. Douglas Gubler. 2020. “Imidacloprid Movement into Fungal Conidia Is Lethal to Mycophagous Beetles.” Insects 11 (8): 496. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11080496.
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