The ecological implications on biological control of insecticidal transgenic plants, which produce crystal (Cry) proteins derived from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), remains a contentious issue and affects risk assessment decisions. In this study, we used a unique system of resistant insects, Bt plants and a predator to critically evaluate this issue. The effects of broccoli type (normal or expressing Cry1Ac protein) and insect genotype (susceptible or Cry1Ac-resistant) of Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) were examined for their effects on the life history of the predator, Coleomegilla maculata DeGeer (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) over two generations. Additional behavioral studies were conducted on prey choice. C. maculata could not discriminate between Bt-resistant and susceptible genotypes of P. xylostella, nor between Bt and normal broccoli plants with resistant genotypes of P. xylostella feeding on them. The larval and pupal period, adult weight and fecundity of each female were not significantly different when C. maculata larvae fed on different genotypes (Bt-resistant or susceptible) of insect prey larvae reared on Bt or non-Bt broccoli plants. The life-history parameters of the subsequent generation of C. maculata fed on Bt broccoli-reared resistant P. xylostella were also not significantly different from those on non-Bt broccoli. These results indicated that Cry1Ac did not harm the life history or prey acceptance of an important predator after two generations of exposure. Plants expressing Cry1Ac are unlikely to affect this important predator in the field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Insect Science