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Bt eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) in Bangladesh: Fruit production and control of eggplant fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis Guenee), effects on non-target arthropods and economic returns

Steve Naranjo, M. Z. H. Prodhan, M. T. Hasan, M. M. I. Chowdhury, M. S. Alam, M. L. Rahman, A. K. Azad, M. J. Hossain, Anthony Shelton
PloS one 2018 v.13 no.11 pp. e0205713
Aleyrodidae, Bacillus thuringiensis, Leucinodes orbonalis, Solanum melongena, beneficial arthropods, costs and returns, crystal proteins, developing countries, eggplants, farmers, field experimentation, fruit yield, fruits, insecticides, insects, isogenic lines, mites, pesticide application, pests, spraying, transgenic plants, vigor, Bangladesh
Eggplant or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a popular vegetable grown throughout Asia where it is attacked by the brinjal fruit and shoot borer (BFSB) (Leucinodes orbonalis). Yield losses in Bangladesh have been reported up to 86% and farmers rely primarily on frequent insecticide applications to reduce injury. Bangladesh has developed and released four brinjal varieties producing Cry1Ac (Bt brinjal) and is the first developing country to do so. We report on the first replicated field trials comparing the four Bt brinjal varieties to their non-Bt isolines, with and without standard insecticide spray regimes. Results of the two-year study (2016-17) indicated Bt varieties had increased fruit production and very little BFSB fruit infestation compared with their respective non-Bt isolines. Fruit infestation for Bt varieties varied from 0-2.27% in 2016, 0% in 2017, and was not significantly affected by the spray regime in either year. In contrast, fruit infestation in non-Bt lines reached 36.70% in 2016 and 45.51% in 2017, even with weekly spraying. However, maximum fruit yield was obtained from sprayed plots compared to non-sprayed plots, indicating that other insects such as whiteflies, thrips and mites can reduce plant vigor and subsequent fruit weight. Higher gross return was obtained from the Bt varieties over non-Bt isolines irrespective of spray regime; no spray non-Bt isolines resulted in a negative return in most cases. Statistically similar densities of non-target arthropods, including beneficial arthropods, were observed in both Bt and non-Bt varieties in most cases. An additional trial that focused on a single Bt variety and its isoline provided similar results on infestation levels, with and without sprays, and similarly demonstrated no effect on non-target arthropods. Together, these studies indicate that Bt brinjal is extremely effective at controlling BFSB in Bangladesh without affecting other arthropods. However, to achieve maximum yield of Bt brinjal other pest arthropods need to be managed.