MURAL - Maynooth University Research Archive Library

    Investigating the effects of glyphosate on the bumblebee proteome and microbiota

    Cullen, Merissa G. and Bliss, Liam and Stanley, Dara A. and Carolan, James C. (2023) Investigating the effects of glyphosate on the bumblebee proteome and microbiota. Science of The Total Environment, 864 (161074). pp. 1-16. ISSN 0048-9697

    Download (1MB) | Preview

    Share your research

    Twitter Facebook LinkedIn GooglePlus Email more...

    Add this article to your Mendeley library


    Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides globally. It acts by inhibiting an enzyme in an aromatic amino acid synthesis pathway specific to plants and microbes, leading to the view that it poses no risk to other organisms. However, there is growing concern that glyphosate is associated with health effects in humans and an ever-increasing body of evidence that suggests potential deleterious effects on other animals including pollinating insects such as bees. Although pesticides have long been considered a factor in the decline of wild bee populations, most research on bees has focussed on demonstrating and understanding the effects of insecticides. To assess whether glyphosate poses a risk to bees, we characterised changes in survival, behaviour, sucrose solution consumption, the digestive tract proteome, and the microbiota in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris after chronic exposure to field relevant doses of technical grade glyphosate or the glyphosate-based formulation, RoundUp Optima+®. Regardless of source, there were changes in response to glyphosate exposure in important cellular and physiological processes in the digestive tract of B. terrestris, with proteins associated with oxidative stress regulation, metabolism, cellular adhesion, the extracellular matrix, and various signalling pathways altered. Interestingly, proteins associated with endocytosis, oxidative phosphorylation, the TCA cycle, and carbohydrate, lipid, and amino acid metabolism were differentially altered depending on whether the exposure source was glyphosate alone or RoundUp Optima+®. In addition, there were alterations to the digestive tract microbiota of bees depending on the glyphosate source No impacts on survival, behaviour, or food consumption were observed. Our research provides insights into the potential mode of action and consequences of glyphosate exposure at the molecular, cellular and organismal level in bumblebees and highlights issues with the current honeybee-centric risk assessment of pesticides and their formulations, where the impact of co-formulants on non-target organisms are generally overlooked.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Bee; Bombus; Proteomics; Glyphosate; Microbiota; Digestive tract;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Biology
    Faculty of Science and Engineering > Research Institutes > Human Health Institute
    Item ID: 17110
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: James Carolan
    Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2023 10:34
    Journal or Publication Title: Science of The Total Environment
    Publisher: Elsevier
    Refereed: Yes
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

      Repository Staff Only(login required)

      View Item Item control page


      Downloads per month over past year

      Origin of downloads