Laboratory bioassays on the response of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) glutathione S-transferase and acetylcholinesterase to the oral exposure to copper, cadmium, and lead

  • Tatjana V. Nikolić
  • Danijela Kojić
  • Snežana Orčić
  • Elvira L. Vukašinović
  • Duško P. Blagojević
  • Jelena Purać
Research Article


In the present study, the influence of cadmium, copper, and lead on two enzymes often used as biomarkers in toxicological analysis was investigated. Bees were fed with 1 M sucrose solution containing 10-fold serial dilutions of CuCl2 (1000 mg L−1, 100 mg L−1, and 10 mg L−1), CdCl2 (0.1 mg L−1, 0.01 mg L−1, and 0.001 mg L−1), or PbCl2 (10 mg L−1, 1 mg L−1, and 0.1 mg L−1) during 48 h. Our results showed that the total glutathione S-transferase activity was not changed under the influence of cadmium and lead, and it was decreased with the highest concentration of copper. The level of gene expression of the three analyzed classes of glutathione S-transferase was significantly increased with increasing concentrations of copper and cadmium. Lead did not cause significant changes in glutathione S-transferase activity and gene expression, while it showed biphasic effect on acetylcholinesterase activity: lower concentration of lead, 0.1 mg L−1 inhibited and higher dose, 10 mg L−1 induced acetylcholinesterase activity in honey bees. Furthermore, our results showed a significant decrease of the acetylcholinesterase activity in honey bees treated with 0.001 and 0.01 mg L−1 CdCl2. Our results indicate the influence of cadmium, copper, and lead on GST and AChE in the honey bees. These results form the basis for future research on the impact of metallic trace element pollution on honey bees.


Honey bee Laboratory tests Metallic trace elements Detoxification Gene expression Enzyme activity 


Funding information

This work was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, Grant no. 173014, project entitled “Molecular mechanisms of redox signalling in homeostasis: adaptation and pathology.”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology and EcologyUniversity of Novi Sad, Faculty of SciencesNovi SadRepublic of Serbia
  2. 2.Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković”University of BelgradeBelgradeRepublic of Serbia

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