Imidacloprid treatments induces cyanobacteria blooms in freshwater communities under sub-tropical conditions

Dimitri Van de Perre, Kai Sheng Yao, Dan Li, Hao Jun Lei, Paul J. Van den Brink*, Guang Guo Ying

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Imidacloprid is one of the most used neonicotinoid insecticides all over the world and is considered as a contaminant of concern due to its high toxicity potential to aquatic organisms. However, the majority of the studies that have evaluated the effects of imidacloprid on aquatic organisms were conducted under temperate conditions. In the present study, a mesocosm experiment was conducted under sub-tropical conditions to assess the effects of imidacloprid on the structure (macroinvertebrates, zooplankton and phytoplankton) and functional endpoints of an aquatic ecosystem and to compare the results with similar temperate and (sub-)tropical mesocosm studies. Imidacloprid (0, 0.03, 0.3 and 3 µg/L) was applied to 13 mesocosms weekly over a period of 4 weeks, followed by a one month recovery period. At the community level a lowest NOECcommunity of 0.03 µg/L was calculated for the zooplankton, phytoplankton and macroinvertebrate communities. The highest sensitivity to imidacloprid (NOEC < 0.03 µg/L) were observed for Gerris sp., Diaptomus sp. and Brachionus quadridentatus. Imidacloprid induced population declines of the larger zooplankton species (Diaptomus sp. and Ostracoda) resulted in increased rotifer abundances and shifted the phytoplankton community to a graze resistant gelatinous cyanobacteria dominated ecosystem. These cyanobacteria blooms occurred at all different concentrations and could pose an important public health and environmental concern. Although there are some differences in species and community sensitivity between the present and the other (sub-)topical mesocosm studies, it can be observed that all show a similar general community response to imidacloprid. Under (sub-)tropical conditions, the toxic effects of imidacloprid occur at lower concentrations than found for temperate ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105992
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • aquatic ecotoxicology
  • mesocosms
  • neonicotinoid insecticides
  • tropics


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