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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ecologically-Based Management of Insect Pests of Corn, with Emphasis on Corn Borers, Rootworms, and Cutworms

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

Title: Impact of Cry3Bb1-expressing Bt maize on adults of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

Authors
item Meissle, Michael -
item Hellmich, Richard
item Romeis, Jorg -

Submitted to: Pest Management Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 16, 2010
Publication Date: February 24, 2011
Citation: Meissle, M., Hellmich II, R.L., Romeis, J. 2011. Impact of Cry3Bb1-expressing Bt maize on adults of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Pest Management Science. 67(7):807-814.

Interpretive Summary: Genetically engineered corn producing insecticidal Cry3Bb1protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is protected from root damage by corn rootworm larvae. This type of corn is very popular with growers and has environmental benefits because of the reduced use of chemical soil insecticides. Although the Bt corn targets corn rootworm larvae, this study assesses whether adults are affected when feeding on above-ground tissue from the Bt corn plants. Effects of Bt corn on fecundity and male survival were observed, but no consistent relationship with the level of exposure to Cry3Bb1 was present. The observed effects can be explained by direct effects of the expressed Bt protein, but also by potential variety effects between the Bt corn hybrid and the control non-Bt corn hybrid. Nutritional quality of different plant parts was important for adult performance, but did not seem to affect the beetle’s sensitivity to Bt corn. The results indicate that the impact of Bt corn on adult populations is likely to be limited. This information is useful to all scientists and regulators interested in the development and use of genetically-engineered plants, particularly corn.

Technical Abstract: Genetically engineered maize producing insecticidal Cry3Bb1protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is protected from root damage by corn rootworm larvae. An examination was made to establish whether western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) adults are affected by Cry3Bb1-expressing maize (MON88017) when feeding on above-ground tissue. Effects of Bt maize on some life-table parameters, i.e., fecundity and male survival, were observed, but no consistent relationship with the level of exposure to Cry3Bb1 was present. The observed effects can be explained by direct effects of the expressed Bt protein, but also by potential variety effects between the Bt and near-isoline. Nutritional quality of different plant parts was important for adult performance, but did not seem to affect the beetle’s sensitivity to Bt maize. The results indicate that the impact of Bt maize on adult populations is likely to be limited.

Last Modified: 10/31/2014
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