NICE on the Cover of PNAS and in News Across the World!

Pictured is a composite scanning electron micrograph of foraging Giant Asian honey bee (Apis dorsata) wing regions collected from sites with low (Top) and high (Bottom) levels of pollution in Bangalore, India. The image reveals the presence of pollen (Top) and respiratory suspended particulate matter (Bottom). Geetha G. Thimmegowda et al. found that differences in air pollution exposure were associated with differences in survival, behavior, heart rate, blood cell count, and stress- and immunity-related gene expression in A. dorsata, as well as in lab-reared fruit flies. The results offer insight into the adverse effects of air pollution on pollinators. See the article by Thimmegowda et al. on pages 20653–20661. Image credit: Geetha G. Thimmegowda.

The NICE Group is pleased to announce our recent article by Geetha et al. on the impact of India’s urban air pollution on wild pollinators is featured on the cover of this week’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA! You can read the article here

As noted in Science Magazine

“The study is the first to provide comprehensive evidence that insects are especially sensitive to particulate matter in the air, [Olli] Loukola says. And that could be bad news for crops that depend heavily on pollinators. By one estimate, 53% of mangoes would disappear without insect pollinators, which would cost India about $86 million in exports alone.

Loukola says the new findings should cause world leaders to rethink their approach air pollution. Current clean air targets mainly take human health into account, he notes. But considering the benefits provided by bees and other insects, he says, we must strive to achieve air quality standards that are safe for them as well.”

Chemical and Engineering News notes:

“The study points out that air pollution doesn’t have a single impact on bees, but a multitude of health impacts, [Mark] Winston says. “We know enough about threats to bees to begin cleaning up the world around us, including the air,” he says.”

Grist also remarks:

“In addition to studying the wild honey bees, the researchers reproduced the study using lab-reared fruit flies in order to control for factors like age, diet, and physiological differences. They found nearly identical results after keeping the flies in cages at the lowest and highest-polluted sites for 10 days at a time.

“That’s another really important part of this,” said [Adam] Dolezal. “This isn’t just a bee story. They saw it in bees, but the effects they saw are almost certainly occuring in other insect species as well.”’

Finally, the Conversation concludes:

“Air pollution is likely to be one part of a complex problem. Bees are sensitive to lots of toxins, but how these interact in the wild is fiendishly difficult to disentangle. We know cocktails of pesticides can cause real damage too. But what happens when bees are exposed to these at the same time as air pollution? We don’t yet know, but answers are urgently needed.”

As far as what this means for our air quality standards, the Economic Times quotes:

“Arunabha Ghosh, founder and CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water was quoted in the statement: “So far, much of the air quality studies have either considered sources of pollution or impact on human health, and to an extent on economic productivity. This study covers important new ground, by examining the impact of air pollution on pollinators, which would have serious implications for agricultural output in India. Such findings further underscore the need to raise India’s ambient air quality standards.”’

Our article has covered by over 38 news outlets around the world and 200+ tweeters.  You can read more articles and posts here:

Special thanks to Geetha, Saptarshi, Susan, Katie, Ankit, and our collaborators Axel Brockmann and Dandapany Perunderai for this wonderful experience!

  One thought on “NICE on the Cover of PNAS and in News Across the World!

  1. Soumitra Pal
    August 26, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    NICE work!


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