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Transgenic Res. 2005 Apr;14(2):123-32.

Effects of Bt maize-fed prey on the generalist predator Poecilus cupreus L. (Coleoptera: Carabidae).

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University of Southampton, School of Biological Sciences, Basset Crescent East, Southampton SO16 7PX, UK.


We investigated the effects of transgenic maize (Zea mays) expressing Bacillus thuringienses toxin (Bt maize) on larval and adult Poecilus cupreus carabid beetles in laboratory studies. In no-choice trials, neonate P. cupreus larvae were fed exclusively with Spodoptera littoralis caterpillars, which had been raised on Bt maize. S. littoralis raised on conventional maize or "high quality" Calliphora sp. pupae were fed to the beetle larvae in two control treatments. Bt-maize-fed caterpillar prey increased mortality to 100% within 40 days. The experiment was repeated with 10-day-old beetle larvae. Bt treatment resulted in fewer pupae than in both controls, and in a higher mortality than in the Calliphora control. S. littoralis was suitable as exclusive prey in no-choice tests, at least for 40 days, although prey quality seemed to be low compared to Calliphora pupae. The observed effects are most likely indirect effects due to further reduced nutritional prey quality. However, direct effects cannot be excluded. In the second part of the study, exposure of P. cupreus to Bt intoxicated prey was examined in paired-choice tests. Adult beetles were offered a choice between different prey conditions (frozen and thawed, freshly killed or living), prey types (S. littoralis caterpillars, Calliphora sp. pupae, cereal aphids) and prey treatments (raised on Bt or conventional maize). Living prey was preferred to frozen and dead prey. Caterpillars were only preferred to fly pupae and aphids when living. Prey treatment seemed to be least important for prey selection. The tests showed that P. cupreus ingested caterpillars readily and there was no evidence of them avoiding Bt containing prey, which means exposure in the field could occur. The presented protocols are a first step towards ecological risk assessment for carabid beetles.

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