Effect of Bt maize on the reproduction and development of saprophagous Diptera over multiple generations

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Abstract or Summary

A laboratory experiment was used to quantify the effects of Bt maize on Drosophila melanogaster and Megaselia scalaris, representatives of two saprophagous dipteran families (Drosophilidae, Phoridae). Freshly hatched larvae were reared on a diet containing decaying maize leaves. Two transgenic maize varieties, expressing Cry3Bb1 or Cry1Ab, and their corresponding isolines were tested. In an additional treatment, a solution of pure Cry1Ab was added to the maize diet. According to quantitative ELISA analyses, all Bt diets and all larvae feeding on Bt maize contained low concentrations of Cry proteins but Cry proteins were not detected in adults, thus, predators of the larvae are exposed to Cry proteins whereas predators of adult flies are not. Highest concentrations were in larvae feeding on a maize diet supplemented with a Cry1Ab protein solution. The developmental time and fertility (offspring/female) were measured over four generations for D. melanogaster and over three generations for M. scalaris. Only a few significant differences were found between transgenic and non-transgenic treatments but the differences were not consistent and did not indicate any negative effects of Bt proteins. We conclude that D. melanogaster and M. scalaris larvae are not affected in the long term when feeding and developing on decaying Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 maize leaves.

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