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Investigating combined toxicity of binary mixtures in bees : Meta-analysis of laboratory tests, modelling, mechanistic basis and implications for risk assessment

Abstract : Bees are exposed to a wide range of multiple chemicals “chemical mixtures” from anthropogenic (e.g. plant protection products or veterinary products) or natural origin (e.g. mycotoxins, plant toxins). Quantifying the relative impact of multiple chemicals on bee health compared with other environmental stressors (e.g. varroa, viruses, and nutrition) has been identified as a priority to support the development of holistic risk assessment methods. Here, extensive literature searches and data collection of available laboratory studies on combined toxicity data for binary mixtures of pesticides and non-chemical stressors has been performed for honey bees (Apis mellifera), wild bees (Bombus spp.) and solitary bee species (Osmia spp.). From 957 screened publications, 14 publications provided 218 binary mixture toxicity data mostly for acute mortality (lethal dose: LD50) after contact exposure (61%), with fewer studies reporting chronic oral toxicity (20%) and acute oral LC50 values (19%). From the data collection, available dose response data for 92 binary mixtures were modelled using a Toxic Unit (TU) approach and the MIXTOX modelling tool to test assumptions of combined toxicity i.e. concentration addition (CA), and interactions (i.e. synergism, antagonism). The magnitude of interactions was quantified as the Model Deviation Ratio (MDR). The CA model applied to 17% of cases while synergism and antagonism were observed for 72% (MDR > 1.25) and 11% (MDR < 0.83) respectively. Most synergistic effects (55%) were observed as interactions between sterol-biosynthesis-inhibiting (SBI) fungicides and insecticide/acaricide. The mechanisms behind such synergistic effects of binary mixtures in bees are known to involve direct cytochrome P450 (CYP) inhibition, resulting in an increase in internal dose and toxicity of the binary mixture. Moreover, bees are known to have the lowest number of CYP copies and other detoxification enzymes in the insect kingdom. In the light of these findings, occurrence of these binary mixtures in relevant crops (frequency and concentrations) would need to be investigated. Addressing this exposure dimension remains critical to characterise the likelihood and plausibility of such interactions to occur under field realistic conditions. Finally, data gaps and further work for the development of risk assessment methods to assess multiple stressors in bees including chemicals and non-chemical stressors in bees are discussed.
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Edoardo Carnesecchi, Claus Svendsen, Stefano Lasagni, Audrey Grech, Nadia Quignot, et al.. Investigating combined toxicity of binary mixtures in bees : Meta-analysis of laboratory tests, modelling, mechanistic basis and implications for risk assessment. Environment International, Elsevier, 2019, 133, pp.art. 105256. ⟨10.1016/j.envint.2019.105256⟩. ⟨ineris-03319073⟩

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