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The Effect of Cerium(IV) Oxide Nanoparticles on the Enzyme Activities in Bees

After nine days of exposure to sucrose solution with cerium(IV) oxide's nanoparticles, the bees became hyperactive and excited.

Publish Date: 09.11.2017

Category: Interdisciplinary research, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 15 Life on land (Indicators)

The researchers from the Biology Department at the Biotechnical Faculty, alongside the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the University of Ljubljana, have discovered that cerium(IV) oxide nanoparticles have an effect on bees in sublethal doses. They have also shown that it affects summer bees more than winter bees. This is the first description of the effect of cerium(IV) oxide nanoparticles on the enzyme activities of bees. The results of the research have been published in Environmental Science: Nano. 

The research of the effect has been carried out in a laboratory where worker bees, summer and winter bees, have been chronically exposed to sucrose solution with cerium(IV) oxide nanoparticles for nine days. The bees did not die, but rather displayed a change in their behaviour. The bees became hyperactive and excited as their central nervous centre was affected. After nine days, researchers measured activities of two enzymes: Firstly, Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) - a very important enzyme in the nervous system. It takes part in the olfactory learning process of bees among other things and is important for the grazing activities of bees. Secondly, Glutathione S-transferases (GST) that provides the detoxification of pollutants. 

The significance of the research was even highlighted by foreign researchers, Jason White from Connecticut (USA) and Ryszard Maleszka (Austria). The research was carried out in the framework of several and different researches at the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana that aims to find reasons for the decline of honeybees, which is considered a global problem. In the framework of the aforementioned studies, researchers at the faculty are also studying the effects of various other nanopesticides on the bees. 

More information on the website of the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana. 


Image source: Kos M, Jemec A, Glavan G, Marolt G, Zidar P, Božič J, Novak S, Drobne D. 2017. Cerium(IV) oxide nanoparticles induce sublethal changes in honeybees after chronic exposure. Environmental Science: Nano


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