Tracking Pesticides Through An Insect’s Body

By combining laser-scanning with mass spectroscopy, researchers have managed to track the distribution of pesticides in the bodies of fruit flies.

AsianScientist (Oct. 5, 2018) – In a study published in Analytical Sciences, scientists in Japan have developed a method to visualize how pesticides are distributed inside the bodies of insects.

Pesticides have been linked with declining honey bee numbers, raising questions about the use of these chemicals in agriculture. By gaining a better understanding of the interactions between pesticides and insects, researchers could help develop new and safer pesticides, as well as offer better guidance on the way pesticides are used.

In this study, a team of scientists led by Dr. Seitaro Ohtsu at Osaka University, Japan, developed a method that allows researchers to identify where pesticides accumulate in insects’ bodies. They examined a type of fruit fly belonging to the Drosophila family by scanning a laser across thin sections of the insect’s body.

When the laser hits the tissue section, it ejects material from the surface of the tissue, which can then be analyzed using a mass spectrometer. By looking out for the chemical signature of the pesticide and its breakdown products, the researchers could trace the distribution and metabolism of the pesticide in different parts of the insect body.

“This is a timely contribution, given the mounting evidence of negative effects of certain pesticides on ecosystems. We hope our technique will help other researchers gain new insights into pesticide metabolism that might help limit the effects of pesticides to their targets, without harming beneficial pollinating insects,” said study co-author Assistant Professor Shuichi Shimma of Osaka University.

The article can be found at: Ohtsu et al. (2018) Development of a Visualization Method for Imidacloprid in Drosophila melanogaster via Imaging Mass Spectrometry.


Source: Osaka University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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