Bt crops benefit natural enemies to control non-target pests

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Abstract or Summary

Crops producing insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) control important lepidopteran pests. However, pests such as aphids not susceptible to Cry proteins may require other integrated pest management (IPM) tactics, including biological control. We fed aphids on Bt and non-Bt plants and analyzed the Bt protein residue in aphids and compared the effects of Bt plants and a pyrethroid, lambda-cyhalothrin, on the performance of three natural enemies (predators: Coleomegilla maculata and Eupeodes americanus; parasitoid Aphidius colemani) of the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae. No Bt protein residues in aphids were detected and no significant differences were recorded in the performance of pyrethroid-resistant aphids that fed on Bt broccoli expressing Cry1Ab or Cry1C, or on non-Bt broccoli plants treated or not treated with the pyrethroid. This indicated the aphids were not affected by the Cry proteins or the pyrethroid, thus removing any effect of prey quality. Tri-trophic experiments demonstrated that no C. maculata and E. americanus survived consumption of pyrethroid-treated aphids and that ovipositional behavior of A. colemani was impaired when provided with pyrethroid-treated aphids. In contrast, natural enemies were not affected when fed aphids reared on Bt broccoli, thus demonstrating the safety of these Bt plants for IPM.


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