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Distribution of [14C]imidacloprid in sunflowers (Helianthus annuus L.) following seed treatment

Laurent, F.M., Rathahao, E.
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2003 v.51 no.27 pp. 8005-8010
Helianthus annuus, seed dressings, imidacloprid, insecticides, translocation (plant physiology), leaves, cotyledons, stems, inflorescences, pollen, insecticide residues, carbon, isotope labeling, radionuclides, metabolites, nontarget organisms, risk assessment
Imidacloprid, a neonicotinic insecticide, has been used as a seed dressing (Gaucho) to protect crops against soil and aerial insects. However, French beekeepers observed abnormal behavior of bees foraging on sunflowers and suspected a link between the imidacloprid seed treatment and the observed bee syndrome. This work studies the distribution of [14C-imidazolidin]imidacloprid (1mg/seed) in three stages of Gaucho-treated sunflowers grown in an outdoor lysimeter. Plants absorbed <10% of [14C]imidacloprid spiked on seeds, and 75% of that absorbed radioactivity was found in cotyledons. Concentrations in the upper leaves were 20 times lower than in the first leaves. From the extracted radioactivity, imidacloprid accounted for 50% and metabolites for the other 50%. Four major metabolites can be detected, in variable concentrations, among which the hydroxy- and olefin-imidacloprid have toxicities equivalent to that of imidacloprid. In pollen, concentrations of imidacloprid were 13 ng·g-1. Thus, imidacloprid residues from Gaucho seed treatment contaminated sunflower pollen, involving the translocation of imidacloprid within the plant.