Little information is available on the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on vertebrates. Previous work using amphibians found chronic exposure to some neonicotinoids had no detrimental effects on fitness-relevant traits. However, there is some evidence of more subtle effects of neonicotinoids on immune traits and evidence that other pesticides can suppress tadpole immunity resulting in elevated levels of parasitism in the exposed tadpoles. The objective of our study was to assess whether neonicotinoid exposure affected tadpole immunometrics and susceptibility to parasitic helminths. We assessed northern leopard frog tadpole (Lithobates pipiens) levels of parasitism and leukocyte profiles following exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of clothianidin and free-living infective cercariae of a helminth parasite, an Echinostoma sp. trematode. When comparing tadpoles from controls to either 1 or 100 μg/L clothianidin treatments, we found similar measures of parasitism (i.e. prevalence, abundance and intensity of echinostome cysts) and similar leukocyte profiles. We also confirmed that clothianidin was not lethal for cercariae; however, slight reductions in swimming activity were detected at the lowest exposure concentration of 0.23 μg/L. Our results show that exposure to clothianidin during the larval amphibian stage does not affect leukocyte profiles or susceptibility to parasitism by larval trematodes in northern leopard frogs although other aspects such as length of host exposure require further study.

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Parasitology Research
Department of Biology

Robinson, S.A. (Stacey A.), Gavel, M.J. (M. J.), Richardson, S.D. (S. D.), Chlebak, R.J. (R. J.), Milotic, D. (D.), Koprivnikar, J. (J.), & Forbes, M. (2019). Sub-chronic exposure to a neonicotinoid does not affect susceptibility of larval leopard frogs to infection by trematode parasites, via either depressed cercarial performance or host immunity. Parasitology Research. doi:10.1007/s00436-019-06385-9