A potential link among biogenic amines-based pesticides, learning and memory, and colony collapse disorder: a unique hypothesis

Neurochem Int. 2013 Jan;62(1):122-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2012.09.020. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


Pesticides are substances that have been widely used throughout the world to kill, repel, or control organisms such as certain forms of plants or animals considered as pests. Depending on their type, dose, and persistence in the environment, they can have impact even on non-target species such as beneficial insects (honeybees) in different ways, including reduction in their survival rate and interference with their reproduction process. Honeybee Apis mellifera is a major pollinator and has substantial economical and ecological values. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a mysterious phenomenon in which adult honeybee workers suddenly abandon from their hives, leaving behind food, brood, and queen. It is lately drawing a lot of attention due to pollination crisis as well as global agriculture and medical demands. If the problem of CCD is not resolved soon enough, this could have a major impact on food industry affecting world's economy a big time. Causes of CCD are not known. In this overview, I discuss CCD, biogenic amines-based-pesticides (neonicotinoids and formamidines), and their disruptive effects on biogenic amine signaling causing olfactory dysfunction in honeybees. According to my hypothesis, chronic exposure of biogenic amines-based-pesticides to honeybee foragers in hives and agricultural fields can disrupt neural cholinergic and octopaminergic signaling. Abnormality in biogenic amines-mediated neuronal signaling impairs their olfactory learning and memory, therefore foragers do not return to their hive - a possible cause of CCD. This overview is an attempt to discuss a hypothetical link among biogenic amines-based pesticides, olfactory learning and memory, and CCD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Biogenic Amines / physiology*
  • Colony Collapse / chemically induced*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Learning / drug effects*
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Pollination
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Smell / physiology


  • Biogenic Amines
  • Insecticides
  • Reactive Oxygen Species