Testing Pollen of Single and Stacked Bt-Maize on Honey Bee Larvae

Honey bee (Apis melifera) is an important non-target organism to be considered in the environmental risk assessment (ERA) of genetically modified (GM) crops because of the arthropod's role in pollination. Honey bee larvae are directly exposed to GM products by feeding on the pollen of the GM plant. Most studies involve adult bees even if the larvae are the first ones who are exposed to GM material when they consume the pollen. Thus, Harmen Hendriksma from the University of Wurzburg and colleagues assessed the lethal and sub-lethal effects of Bt pollen consumption of honey bee in a standardized eco-toxicological bioassay. They also analyzed the effect of pollen with single and stacked Bt proteins on the survival and weight of the larvae.

The researchers fed the larvae with semi-artificial diet containing 2 mg pollen. They observed the larvae for 120 hours until they reached the prepupal stage when the larvae also stop from feeding and growing. They found no significant difference in the survival and weight of the larvae fed with Bt pollen when compared with the control. This results indicate that exposure to Bt maize do not cause any harmful effect on honey bee larvae.

The researchers suggest that the use of in vitro reared larvae could be added in the standard bioassay In regulatory risk assessments schemes of GM crops.

Read the open-access research article at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0028174


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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