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Damage and survivorship of fall armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on transgenic field corn expressing Bacillus thuringiensis Cry proteins

Jarrod T. Hardke, B. Rogers Leonard, Fangneng Huang, R.E. Jackson
Crop protection 2011 v.30 no.2 pp. 168-172
cotton, cultivars, Zea mays, hybrids, proteins, survival rate, corn, instars, Spodoptera frugiperda, Bacillus thuringiensis, leaves, pests, planting, field experimentation, larvae, resistance management, insects, adults, Southeastern United States
Field corn, Zea mays L., plants expressing Cry1Ab and Cry1F insecticidal crystal (Cry) proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Berliner are planted on considerable acreage across the Southern region of the United States. The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), is an economically important pest during the mid-to-late season on non-Bt and some commercial Bt corn hybrids. The objective of this study was to quantify foliar injury and survivorship of fall armyworm on transgenic corn lines expressing Cry1Ab or Cry1F Bt proteins. Corn lines/hybrids expressing Cry1Ab, Cry1F, and a conventional non-Bt cultivar were evaluated against artificial infestations of fall armyworm in field trials. Larvae (second instars) of fall armyworm were placed on corn plants (V8-V10 stages). Leaf injury ratings were recorded 14 d after infestation. Hybrids expressing Cry1F had significantly lower feeding injury ratings than non-Bt corn plants. Development and survivorship of fall armyworm on Bt corn lines/hybrids were also evaluated in no-choice laboratory assays by offering freshly harvested corn leaf tissue to third instars. Transgenic corn hybrids expressing Cry1Ab or Cry1F significantly reduced growth, development, and survivorship of fall armyworm compared to those offered non-Bt corn tissue. However, 25–76% of third instars offered Bt corn leaf tissues successfully pupated and emerged as adults. These results suggest Cry1Ab has limited effects on fall armyworm; whereas Cry1F demonstrated significant reductions in foliar injury and lower survivorship compared to that on non-Bt corn tissues. Although fall armyworm is not considered a primary target for insect resistance management by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these levels of survivorship could impact selection pressures across the farmscape, especially when considering that transgenic Bt cotton cultivars express similar Cry (Cry1Ac or Cry1F) proteins.