Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - 1:47 PM

Tritrophic studies on Bt broccoli, the imported cabbageworm and the parasitoid Pteromalus puparum

Mao Chen, mc447@cornell.edu1, Jianzhou Zhao1, and Anthony Shelton, ams5@cornell.edu2. (1) Cornell University, Entomology, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY, (2) Cornell University, Department of Entomology, P.O.Box 462, 630 W. North St, Geneva, NY

Transgenic brassica crops producing insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are being investigated as candidates for field release to control lepidopteran pests. Information on the potential impact of Bt brassica crops on pests and non-target natural enemies is needed as part of an environmental risk assessment prior to the commercial release. This first tier study provides insight into the tritrophic interactions among Bt broccoli plants, the herbivore Pieris rapae and its parasitoid Pteromalus puparum. Bt broccoli effectively controlled P. rapae larvae. When the parasitoid P. puparum developed in a P. rapae pupa (host) that had developed from Bt plant-fed older larvae, developmental time, total number and longevity of the P. puparum generated from the Bt plant-fed host were significantly affected compared with those from non-Bt control plant-fed host. Simultaneously, negative effects on P. rapae pupae were found, i.e. pupal length, width and weight were significantly reduced after older P. rapae larvae fed on different Bt plants. No Bt toxin was detected from newly emerged P. puparum adults developing in Bt-fed hosts. The reduced quality of the host appears to be the only reason for deleterious effects on P. puparum. Our data suggest that the effects on P. puparum developing in Bt plant-fed P. rapae are mediated by host quality rather than by direct toxicity.

Species 1: Lepidoptera Pieridae Pieris rapae (imported cabbageworm)
Species 2: Hymenoptera Pteromalidae Pteromalus puparum