Fate of multiple Bt proteins from stacked Bt maize in the predatory lady beetle Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

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Abstract or Summary

Insecticidal Cry proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can be transferred from genetically engineered crops to herbivores to natural enemies. For the lady beetle Harmonia axyridis, we investigated potential uptake of Cry proteins from the gut to the body and intergenerational transfer. Third and fourth instar H. axyridis fed with pollen or spider mites from SmartStax maize contained substantial amounts of Cry1A.105, Cry1F, Cry2Ab2, Cry3Bb1, and Cry34Ab1. Cry protein concentrations in lady beetle larvae were typically one order of magnitude lower than in the food. When H. axyridis larvae were fed Bt maize pollen, median amounts of Cry protein in the non-feeding pupae were below the limit of detection except for small amounts of Cry34Ab1. No Cry protein was detected in pupae when spider mites were used as food. Cry protein concentrations decreased quickly after H. axyridis larvae were transferred from pollen or spider mites to Bt-free food. Aphids contained very low or no detectable Cry protein, and no Cry protein was found in H. axyridis larvae fed with aphids, and in pupae. When H. axyridis adults were fed with Bt maize pollen (mixed with Ephestia kuehniella eggs), the median concentrations of Cry proteins in lady beetle eggs were below the limit of detection except for Cry34Ab1 in eggs laid later in adult life. No Bt protein was detected in eggs laid by H. axyridis females fed with aphids from Bt maize. Our results confirm previous observations that Cry proteins are degraded and excreted quickly in the arthropod food web without evidence for bioaccumulation. Despite the fact that small amounts of Cry proteins were detected in some samples of the non-feeding pupal stage of H. axyridis as well as in eggs, we conclude that this route of exposure is unlikely to be significant for predators or parasitoids in a Bt maize field.

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Fate of multiple Bt proteins from stacked Bt maize in the predatory lady beetle Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) (held on an external server, and so may require additional authentication details)

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