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Bt-maize in neotropical arthropod food webs: community-stress or lack thereof?

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Abstract or Summary

Although the agricultural use of genetically engineered (GE) plants has been employed extensively, its adoption is still controversial and its impact on arthropods has rarely been scrutinized at the community level. If this technology is aimed at a drastic reduction of a key community component, significant community-level impact is expected and needs to be assessed. Thus, food web analysis was used to assess the short-term impact of genetically modified maize plants, Zea mays L. (Poaceae), expressing insecticidal proteins of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner (i.e., Bt maize), on the associated arthropod assemblage in a neotropical scenario. Arthropods associated with winter and summer cultivations with Bt and non-Bt (isoline) maize were thus sampled using sweep nets and whole-plant collections throughout the plant phenological cycle. The collected information was used to build a plant-consumer-predator trivariate network based on data of individual arthropod body mass, numerical abundance, and biomass abundance using food web analysis. Eighty-five arthropod species were sampled, and whereas cultivation season significantly affected arthropod species richness and abundance, only marginal differences existed between maize hybrids (Bt vs. non-Bt). The recognized food webs also indicated significant differences between seasons. In contrast, Bt-maize-hosted food webs were similar to those of the non-Bt isoline indicating no significant impact on arthropod food webs. Nonetheless, Bt maize did not provide significant control of the target pest species, the fall armyworm, nor did it lead to higher crop yield, raising questions about its current usefulness in the region.


Bt-maize in neotropical arthropod food webs: community-stress or lack thereof? (held on an external server, and so may require additional authentication details)

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