That is welcome news for ecologists and farmers in the debate over GM plants. Much of the debate surrounding the use of GM crops focuses on their effect on organisms that aren't pests.
The research showed that GM plants expressing Bt insecticidal proteins are not toxic to a parasite that lives inside the caterpillar of the diamondback moth, a devastating worldwide vegetable pest. It was published in the May 27 issue of the online scientific journal PLoS One.
"The conservation of parasites is important for enhancing natural biocontrol that will help suppress pest populations as well as reduce the potential for the pest insects to develop resistance to the Bt," explained Anthony Shelton, Cornell professor of entomology at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., who conducted the study with postdoctoral associate Mao Chen. "Our studies make it clear that Bt plants are a win-win situation to control pest insects and to enhance biocontrol and biodiversity."
The Bt bacterium, which is not harmful to humans, has been used for decades as a leaf spray and since 1996, in GM plants, a method that has proven much more effective and is now more widely used. Both uses are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2007, Bt corn and cotton plants were grown in 22 countries on 104 million acres, according to Shelton.
"Few studies have examined the effect of Bt plants on parasites of caterpillars, but some of them have reported negative impacts," said Chen, noting that the new research suggests that those negative findings were likely due to testing methods.
To separate out the effect of insecticides and Bt proteins on the caterpillar and parasite, the Cornell researchers isolated and bred strains of caterpillars that were resistant to Bt or a conventional or organic insecticide. Then the caterpillars were parasitized with a wasp that kills the caterpillar in nature.
The resistant caterpillars were then either fed GM plants expressing the Bt protein or non-GM plants sprayed with the Bt protein, conventional insecticides or organic insecticides.
The parasitized caterpillars that ate plants treated with conventional and organic insecticides to which they were resistant, survived and developed into moths because the parasite was killed by the insecticide the caterpillar ingested. However, when the caterpillar fed on the Bt-sprayed plants or Bt plants, the parasite was not affected and killed its host caterpillar when it emerged as an adult wasp, showing that Bt plants are not toxic to the parasite.
Other Cornell researchers involved in the study include Elizabeth Earle and Jun Cao from the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics and Jian-Zhou Zhao and Hilda Collins from the Department of Entomology. The work was supported by a grant from the USAID Program for Biosafety Systems.
Blaine Friedlander | newswise
Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses
24.04.2017 | Indiana University
Two-dimensional melting of hard spheres experimentally unravelled after 60 years
24.04.2017 | University of Oxford
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences