Copplestone D, Coates CJ & Lim J (2023) Low dose γ-radiation induced effects on wax moth (Galleria mellonella) larvae. Science of The Total Environment, 876, Art. No.: 162742. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162742
Larvae of the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella are common pests of beehives and commercial apiaries, and in more applied settings, these insects act as alternative in vivo bioassays to rodents for studying microbial virulence, antibiotic development, and toxicology. In the current study, our aim was to assess the putative adverse effects of background gamma radiation levels on G. mellonella. To achieve this, we exposed larvae to low (0.014 mGy/h), medium (0.056 mGy/h), and high (1.33 mGy/h) doses of caesium-137 and measured larval pupation events, weight, faecal discharge, susceptibility to bacterial and fungal challenges, immune cell counts, activity, and viability (i.e., haemocyte encapsulation) and melanisation levels. The effects of low and medium levels of radiation were distinguishable from the highest dose rates used – the latter insects weighed the least and pupated earlier. In general, radiation exposure modulated cellular and humoral immunity over time, with larvae showing heightened encapsulation/melanisation levels at the higher dose rates but were more susceptible to bacterial (Photorhabdus luminescens) infection. There were few signs of radiation impacts after 7 days exposure, whereas marked changes were recorded between 14 and 28 days. Our data suggest that G. mellonella demonstrates plasticity at the whole organism and cellular levels when irradiated and offers insight into how such animals may cope in radiologically contaminated environments (e.g. Chornobyl Exclusion Zone).
Caesium-137; Haemocytes; Innate immunity; Cellular defence reactions; Melanisation; Imuunotoxicology
Science of The Total Environment: Volume 876