A Three-Year Plant Study of Salt-Tolerant Transgenic Maize Showed No Effects on Soil Enzyme Activity and Nematode Community

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Abstract or Summary

The environmental effects of genetically modified crops are now a global concern. It is important to monitor the potential environmental impact of transgenic corn after commercial release. In rhizosphere soil, plant roots interact with soil enzymes and microfauna, which can be affected by the transgenes of genetically modified crops. To determine the long-term impact of transgenic plant cultivation, we conducted a field study for 3 consecutive years (2018–2020) and observed the enzyme activities and nematode populations in plots planted with transgenic maize BQ-2, non-transgenic wild-type maize (Qi319), and inbred line B73. We took soil samples from three cornfields at four different growth stages (V3, V9, R1, and R6 stages); determined soil dehydrogenase, urease, and sucrase activities; and collected and identified soil nematodes to the genus level. The results demonstrated seasonal variations in dehydrogenase, urease, and sucrase activities. However, there was a consistent trend of change. The generic composition and diversity indices of the soil nematodes did not significantly differ, although significant seasonal variation was found in the individual densities of the principal trophic groups and the diversity indices of the nematodes in all three cornfields. The results of the study suggest that a 3-year cultivation of transgenic corn had no significant effects on soil enzyme activity and the soil nematode community. This study provides a theoretical basis for the environmental impact monitoring of transgenic corn.

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