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Bull Entomol Res. 2012 Jun;102(3):293-302. doi: 10.1017/S0007485311000666. Epub 2011 Nov 24.

Assessment of prey-mediated effects of the coleopteran-specific toxin Cry3Bb1 on the generalist predator Atheta coriaria (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).

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  • 1Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Ramiro de Maeztu, Madrid, Spain.


A laboratory study was carried out to assess the potential prey-mediated effects of Cry3Bb1-expressing Bt maize on the fitness and predatory ability of Atheta coriaria Kraatz (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae), using Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae) as prey. The concentration of Cry3Bb1 toxin through the trophic chain significantly decreased from Bt maize (21.7 μg g(-1) FW) to mites (5.6 μg g(-1) FW) and then to A. coriaria adults (1.4 μg g(-1) FW), but not from mites to A. coriaria L1-L3 larvae (4.1-4.6 μg g(-1) FW). Interestingly, the toxin levels detected in A. coriaria larvae represent more than 20% of the concentration found in Bt maize, and the toxin was detected up to 48 h after exposure. To our knowledge, this is the highest level of exposure ever reported in a predatory beetle to the Cry3Bb1 protein. When A. coriaria larvae were reared on Bt-fed mites, Bt-free mites or rearing food, no significant differences among treatments were observed in development, morphological measurements of sclerotized structures and body weight. Moreover, no negative effects on reproductive parameters were reported in adults feeding on Bt-fed prey after 30 days of treatment, and survival was not affected after 60 days of exposure. Similarly, predatory ability and prey consumption of A. coriaria larvae and adults were not affected by exposure to the toxin. All together, these results indicate a lack of adverse effects on A. coriaria, a species commonly used as a biological control agent. The use of A. coriaria as a surrogate species for risk assessment of GM crops that express insecticidal proteins is discussed.

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