Effect of Bt Corn (Bt 38) Cultivation on Community Structure of Collembola

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Abstract or Summary

Transgenic corn has been modified to express a gene derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to combat lepidopteran pests. Bt proteins and the altered chemical composition of Bt crops may affect the role the soil fauna plays in the decomposition of Bt plants. A 2-y field study and a laboratory feeding experiment using corn leaves were conducted in northeastern China to investigate the effect of Bt corn—consisting of Bt corn (Bt 38) and a near-isoline of non-Bt corn (Z 58)—on the abundance, species richness, morphological traits, community structure, and fitness of soil Collembola. A total of 4,419 collembolans, comprised of 22 species, were recovered in this study. We found that Bt corn cultivation did not significantly affect abundance, species richness, or community structure of Collembola. Some rare isotomids of the genera Desoria Nicolet, 1841 (Collembola: Isotomidae) and Folsomia Willem, 1902 (Collembola: Isotomidae) were only recorded in non-Bt corn varieties and not in Bt corn varieties. Morphological traits, including the number of ocelli, body size, body pigmentation level, furca development, antennal length, and antenna:head ratio of Collembola were not changed by transgenic corn cultivation in the 2-y field study. Our results clearly found that the Bt corn did not affect community characteristics or traits of Collembola during this 2-y field study.

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