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
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences