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Increased susceptibility of Bt maize to aphids enhances the performance of parasitoids of lepidopteran pests.

Wackers, Felix L. and Faria, C. A. and Turlings, T. C. J. (2007) Increased susceptibility of Bt maize to aphids enhances the performance of parasitoids of lepidopteran pests. PLoS ONE, 2 (7). e600.

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Abstract

Concerns about possible undesired environmental effects of transgenic crops have prompted numerous evaluations of such crops. So-called Bt crops receive particular attention because they carry bacteria-derived genes coding for insecticidal proteins that might negatively affect non-target arthropods. Here we show a remarkable positive effect of Bt maize on the performance of the corn leaf aphid Rhopalosiphum maidis, which in turn enhanced the performance of parasitic wasps that feed on aphid honeydew. Within five out of six pairs that were evaluated, transgenic maize lines were significantly more susceptible to aphids than their near-isogenic equivalents, with the remaining pair being equally susceptible. The aphids feed from the phloem sieve element content and analyses of this sap in selected maize lines revealed marginally, but significantly higher amino acid levels in Bt maize, which might partially explain the observed increased aphid performance. Larger colony densities of aphids on Bt plants resulted in an increased production of honeydew that can be used as food by beneficial insects. Indeed, Cotesia marginiventris, a parasitoid of lepidopteran pests, lived longer and parasitized more pest caterpillars in the presence of aphid-infested Bt maize than in the presence of aphid-infested isogenic maize. Hence, depending on aphid pest thresholds, the observed increased susceptibility of Bt maize to aphids may be either a welcome or an undesirable side effect.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Additional Information: Comparing multiple Bt transgenic maize lines with their near-isogenic equivalents we show that GM maize is more susceptible to a non-target aphid pest. This is one of several papers resulting from a PhD studentship (CAF) jointly supervised by TCJT (chemical ecology) and FLW (insect nutritional ecology). RAE_import_type : Journal article RAE_uoa_type : Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 2253
Deposited By: ep_importer
Deposited On: 04 Apr 2008 11:07
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 16:02
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/2253

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