Does Cry1Ab maize interfere in the biology and behavioural traits of Podisus nigrispinus

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Abstract or Summary

Transgenic plants expressing Bacillus thuringiensis proteins can indirectly affect natural enemies of target insects, and the assessment of these effects is essential in risk analysis of genetically modified plants. The biology of Podisus nigrispinus (Dallas) (Hemiptera Pentatomidae) and changes in the predation behaviour of this insect when fed with Bt (Cry1Ab) maize-fed Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) larvae (Lepidoptera Noctuidae) was evaluated. The predator showed 43.7% delay in the nymphal development time and 15% biomass reduction in the fifth instar, probably due to low nutritional quality of prey exposed to Bt maize. Survival curves were similar in predators fed with S. frugiperda larvae exposed and not exposed to Bt maize. The predator search time was slightly influenced by the developmental delay of S. frugiperda fed with Bt maize. In a greenhouse assay P. nigrispinus was important in controlling S. frugiperda density in Bt maize expressing the Cry1Ab protein. Our laboratory results indicate that Bt maize may cause indirect effects on P. nigrispinus and suggest that nutritional prey-quality factors other than the Bt protein determine the observed negative effects. However, the semi-field greenhouse assays demonstrate that indirect negative effects of Bt maize on the predator’s performance and search behaviour is not substantiated, and that plant damage is lowest if Bt maize is used concurrently with biological control by P. nigrispinus for managing S. frugiperda.


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