Pollen-inspired enzymatic microparticles to reduce organophosphate toxicity in managed pollinators

Jing Chen, James Webb, Kaavian Shariati, Shengbo Guo, Jin Kim Montclare, Scott McArt, Minglin Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pollinators support the production of the leading food crops worldwide. Organophosphates are a heavily used group of insecticides that pollinators can be exposed to, especially during crop pollination. Exposure to lethal or sublethal doses can impair fitness of wild and managed bees, risking pollination quality and food security. Here we report a low-cost, scalable in vivo detoxification strategy for organophosphate insecticides involving encapsulation of phosphotriesterase (OPT) in pollen-inspired microparticles (PIMs). We developed uniform and consumable PIMs capable of loading OPT at 90% efficiency and protecting OPT from degradation in the pH of a bee gut. Microcolonies of Bombus impatiens fed malathion-contaminated pollen patties demonstrated 100% survival when fed OPT−PIMs but 0% survival with OPT alone, or with plain sucrose within five and four days, respectively. Thus, the detrimental effects of malathion were eliminated when bees consumed OPT−PIMs. This design presents a versatile treatment that can be integrated into supplemental feeds such as pollen patties or dietary syrup for managed pollinators to reduce risk of organophosphate insecticides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalNature Food
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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